Aurora Australis arrives at Davis station, resupply underway

Aeroplane in mid flight over sea ice
A Twin Otter fixed-wing ski plane departs Davis for Mawson. (Photo: Brendan H)

The icebreaker Aurora Australis has reached Davis station and the first resupply mission of the summer season is now underway.

The voyage departed Hobart 14 days ago, enduring several days of rough seas and large swell of up to four metres in the Southern Ocean.

The ship entered the pack ice on Saturday (7 November), arriving at the edge of the fast ice on Wednesday morning.

The team were able to make the most of fine weather conditions with a total of 25 ship-to-shore helicopter flights undertaken to deliver key science projects and support personnel and six pallets of cargo to Davis Station.

A Twin Otter fixed-wing ski plane flew 10 ship passengers across to Mawson to commence projects.

The Aurora Australis then continued to break into the fast ice, reaching its ‘park up’ position at midday today (Friday). The over-ice resupply is now underway and is expected to take approximately eight days, depending on weather conditions.

Cargo from the ship is loaded onto vehicles and driven ashore to the station. The ice is constantly monitored to ensure it remains safe to drive trucks, loaders and other vehicles on.

With scientists now at Davis, field work is underway. The work includes:

  • A remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) is being deployed under the ice to study early season algae growth on fast ice as it starts to break up and decay through the summer season.

  • Scientists are heading inland from Davis Station to examine boulders and rocks left by retreating glaciers in a bid to better understand the changing nature of the Antarctic ice sheet.

  • A small team is travelling to Hop Island to study colonies of seabirds.

The voyage to Davis was delayed by a week after the Aurora Australis was diverted to Macquarie Island last month to repatriate an expeditioner requiring specialist medical care.

The Australian Antarctic Division is working to make up lost time throughout the shipping season to minimise disruption to scheduled activities.