New ship for Australian Antarctic program

The Australian Antarctic Program will see a new ship next summer: the MV Vasiliy Golovnin.

The Vasiliy Golovnin has been chartered to replace the MV Polar Bird, which was sold following the completion of its final voyage last season. Owned and operated by the Far Eastern Shipping Company of Vladivostok, the Vasiliy Golovnin has initially been chartered for one season, with options to extend this charter to a maximum of five years.

At 159.8m long, the Vasiliy Golovnin provides the AAD with a cargo capacity greater than any ship it has previously used. The increased capacity will allow the AAD to undertake the resupply of multiple continental stations on the one voyage. This has been a goal for some time, although it has not previously been possible due to the smaller capacities of ships used in the past.

Operations on the Vasiliy Golovnin will commence on 26 December when it comes on charter in Hobart. The vessel will then be loaded with cargo for Casey, Mawson and Davis stations, departing for Casey on the 30 December. The voyage will take approximately 48 days, with the vessel expected to arrive back in Hobart on 16 February.

The 13,514 tonne ship, registered in Vladivostok, is one of a series of Vitus Bering class icebreaking transport vessels purpose-built for service in Arctic and Antarctic waters. Sister ships are also used to support other nations’ Antarctic programs.

MV Vasiliy Golovnin was built to carry general and bulk cargo, cargo fuel oil, heavy vehicles and containers. It is fitted with hydraulic electric deck cranes, stern quarter door and landing ramp, helicopter hangar and helipad. Powered by two 5730kW diesel electric engines, the vessel has a Russian crew of 39 and can accommodate approximately 27 expeditioners.