Built in Norway in 1983, the MV Polar Queen was chartered by ANARE for only one season making voyages to each of Australia’s three Antarctic stations, and two trips to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island station. The Polar Queen had previously completed voyages to the Antarctic with German and Italian expeditions, as well as numerous Arctic voyages. The ship was named for its ability to conquer difficult polar conditions.


  • Ice-strengthened with double hull
  • length: 65 metres
  • power: 4500 horsepower engine
  • two large cargo holds with total capacity of 1530 cubic metres
  • 53 passengers
  • 2 Hiab Sea cranes with capacity of 2.5 ton
  • Mecca MK 21 and GPS receiver for determining position
  • average speed: 13 knots

Special features

The ship featured fire protection monitoring, internal communication and public-announcement systems as well as camera monitoring of the aft-deck. Ice-strengthened with a double hull, the Polar Queen was equipped with a fuel oil storage arrangement that minimised the risk of accidental oil spill.

Facilities to support research work included handling crane, capstans, laboratory with separate climate control and stabilised power supply, scientific stores, and high-pressure hydraulic system for scientific winches. The ship also used satellite navigation and communication equipment, and computers.

Key Antarctic voyage

The Polar Queen was used to undertake short marine science cruises aimed mainly at collecting live krill for study at the new specially-designed cold room laboratories at ANARE headquarters in Kingston. ANARE scientists pioneered techniques to study large numbers of live krill in the laboratory, providing valuable data on the key role krill plays in the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

Later life

In 1995, the ship was replaced by its builders Rieber Shipping in 1995 with a second Polar Queen.