In 1995, the Norwegian company, Rieber Shipping built the MV Polar Queen to replace an earlier Polar Queen (chartered by ANARE in 1989–90). The new ship was named for its ability to conquer difficult polar conditions.

In 1999, the Polar Queen was chartered at short notice by the Antarctic Division for one voyage while urgent repairs being done on the Aurora Australis.


  • DnV*A1 Icebreaker Ice 05
  • main engines 2 × Bergen Diesel BRM 6, each 2550 kilowatts
  • length: 80 metres
  • breadth moulded: 17 metres
  • capacity 1800 tons dead weight
  • maximum speed: 14 knots
  • range of action: 40 000 nautical miles
  • passenger capacity: 80 with 1, 2, 3 and 4 berth cabins
  • helicopter deck with a capacity for Super Puma or equivalent aircraft

Key Antarctic voyage

In its single ANARE voyage in 1999, the Polar Queen provided support for scientific research including survey and mapping projects. A cutting-edge ship at the time, the Polar Queen was well-designed with an ice-strengthened hull capable of a wide range of logistic and scientific tasks.

Later life

In 1999, the ship was chartered to the British Antarctic Survey and renamed the RSS Ernest Shackleton after the famous polar explorer.