Round-the-clock effort completes Polar Bird program

10 January 2002

The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis has completed the remaining task on the schedule of the trapped Antarctic supply ship Polar Bird in a round-the-clock effort by expeditioners and crew at Mawson station.

This followed a similar hectic schedule to transfer passengers and cargo from Polar Bird, which has been immobilised by heavy pack-ice in Prydz Bay for over a month.

Four helicopters, including two redeployed from scientific support at Davis station, were used to complete the marathon task of transferring passengers and cargo over 70 kilometers of pack-ice before Aurora Australis's two-day, 600 km journey to Mawson.

Aurora Voyage leader Greg Hodge, after completing a working stint of three 19-hour days, said he and others on the ship were feeling "buoyed after their success even if a little tired".

Aurora Australis is expected to reach the vicinity of Polar Bird on the weekend, where it will again explore openings in the ice around the trapped ship. If it can get close enough it will then seek to use its ice-breaking capabilities to free Polar Bird.