After the successful delivery of supplies and equipment to Australia’s Antarctic stations Casey and Davis the re-supply ship Vasiliy Golovnin is unable to reach Mawson.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said that difficult ice conditions around Mawson station had prevented the ship reaching its destination.

“The sea ice around Mawson is significantly thicker than is usual for this time of year and the closest the ship can get is 30 kilometres away,” Senator Campbell said.

“This is not close enough to allow the Australian Antarctic Division to carry out its re-supply of the station.

“There have been severe storms and winds to 60 knots in the area. The ship waited several days in the hope that the strong winds would 'blow out’ the sea ice.

“As there was no indication that the sea ice conditions around Mawson would change enough any time soon to allow the ship into the station’s Horseshoe Harbour, the decision has been made to return Vasiliy Golovnin to Hobart.”

Senator Campbell said that supplies for Mawson would now be delivered by the research and re-supply vessel Aurora Australis next month.

“Most years our re-supply of Australia’s stations goes without a hitch and that has been the case at Casey and Davis. However, when we are dealing with elements beyond our control we need to be flexible enough to reschedule operations.”

Vasiliy Golovnin is scheduled to return to Hobart on Monday 7 February, a week earlier than originally planned.