To mark the 50th anniversary of the Kista Dan's first voyage to the Antarctic, Australia Post has released four stamps featuring the distinctive Dan ships — Kista Dan, Thala Dan, Magga Dan and Nella Dan.
The Kista Dan was the first of four ‘Dan’ ships built by the Danish firm J Lauritzen and chartered by Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) for Australian Antarctic exploration and scientific research.
50c Kista Dan:
The charter of Kista Dan opened the door to Antarctica for ANARE. Much subantarctic research had been done since 1947 but in early 1954 the ice-strengthened Kista Dan allowed the establishment of Australia’s first continental station — Mawson. On the return voyage Kista Dan weathered a 12-hour hurricane in Prydz Bay, when winds of over 100 knots and huge seas rolled her to 70°. Kista Dan is recognised in the naming of Kista Rock, west of Davis and Kista Strait, west of Mawson.
50c Magga Dan:
Magga Dan sailed down the Thames in November 1956 for her maiden voyage — to deploy the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and the Royal Society’s Antarctic Expedition, to the Weddell Sea. In her ANARE service from 1959 to 1961, Magga Dan with Director Phil Law, surveyors, scientists and pilots, explored most of the coastline of Australian Antarctic Territory, from Mawson to Oates Land. The Australian flag was raised near Magga Peak in February 1959.
$1 Thala Dan:
Thala Dan was launched in 1957, and was chartered by Australia later that year, working with ANARE until early 1982. On her voyage to Macquarie Island in late 1958 she carried the first helicopter used by ANARE. Thala Dan was extended six metres, rebuilt and modernised in 1975. The top superstructure deck was removed, a new deck built, and the old deckhouse replaced one level higher. This increased expeditioner accommodation to 50. New facilities included a larger helicopter deck, more deep-freeze storage space, and enclosed bridge wings. The new length overall was 81 metres. This $1 stamp features Thala Dan in her original layout. Thala Fjord, Thala Hills, Thala Rock and Thala Valley were named for Thala Dan.
$1.45 Nella Dan:
The most famous of the Dan ships to serve ANARE was the Nella Dan, named in honour of Nel Law. During its 26 years with ANARE it supported major exploratory and scientific activities. While resupplying MacquarieIsland in December 1987, the Nella Dan was driven aground and eventually scuttled. The Nella Dan is shown anchored in the Antarctic.
Australia Post has released AAT stamp issues since 1957. Stamp products released for the Antarctic Ship issue include a first day cover, stamp pack and ‘maximum’ cards (pre-stamped postcards featuring one of the new isssue). All products are available nationally from Australia Post outlets.