Hobart will see a new Antarctic ship this summer: the MV Vasiliy Golovnin.

”MV Vasiliy Golovnin will replace the smaller MV Polar Bird which was used for some 20 years. Polar Bird was sold earlier this year by its Norwegian owners following its final voyage for the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)," said Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, Dr Sharman Stone.

Dr Stone said that the AAD had now completed negotiations with the Far Eastern Shipping Company to charter the Russian-registered MV Vasiliy Golovnin. Next summer the vessel will resupply our continental Antarctic stations, with options to re-lease over the next five years.

“We have been looking for a more robust and larger vessel for some time to enable us to more efficiently and economically resupply our three stations on the Antarctic continent.”

“Previously, our ships were too small to carry south all the cargo and equipment needed to support our science programs in one voyage. At one-and-a-half times the length of MV Polar Bird, MV Vasiliy Golovnin will go a good way towards addressing that situation," Dr Stone said.

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.

The vessel, powered by two 5730Kw diesel electric engines, has a crew of 39 and accommodation for approximately 27 expeditioners.

The AAD’s Logistics Manager Geoff Dannock and Hobart marine surveyor Chris Wells travelled to Vladivostok last year to inspect the vessel to determine its suitability for charter.

Dr Stone said that negotiations over contract conditions were finalised two weeks ago with its signing by the Far Eastern Shipping Company. The AAD has signed the contract today.

MV Vasiliy Golovnin has been chartered for one year with a further two two-year options.

The ship is scheduled to arrive in Hobart in December for its first trip south for the Australian Antarctic Division.