Built in 1970 in Germany, the MV Lady Franklin was originally named the Baltic Valiant. In 1981, the freighting company C. A. Crosbie Shipping Ltd, operating a cargo service between Canada and Newfoundland, changed its name to Lady Franklin. It was named after the Lady Jane Franklin, wife of the former Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, Sir John Franklin, whose 1844 expedition to find a Northwest Passage sea route through the Canadian Arctic archipelago was lost.

The Lady Franklin was first chartered by ANARE in 1983 to replace the Thala Dan.


  • Motor Vessel (MV)
  • Finnish Ice Class 1A
  • engines diesel — G9V, auxiliary engines were MWM, 2 × 325 kVA, MWM — 1 x 145 kVA.
  • length: 103.42 metres
  • breadth moulded: 15.6 metres
  • bunker capacity: 344.79 cubic metres
  • passenger capacity: 52; crew: 21
  • 2 cranes with capacity of 10 tons (could combine to lift 20 tons), 1 crane with 5-ton capacity

The ship was arranged with the forward section of the vessel for cargo, and the superstructure (including bridge, crew, and some passenger accommodation, office and mess) all aft. The Lady Franklin's efficient cargo-handling equipment allowed expeditions to unload in record time.

Key Antarctic voyages

In 1988, on the ship’s first voyage of the season, the Lady Franklin was forced to abandon its attempt to reach Commonwealth Bay near Mawson station. Heavy pack ice early in the season forced the ship to return to Hobart, delaying the conservation project to restore Mawson’s Huts.

Later life

In 2003, the Lady Franklin was sold as a general cargo ship, and renamed the Mariam VI.