Australia’s ice-breaker Aurora Australis will tow a stricken fishing vessel from Macquarie Island to Auckland Island, south of New Zealand, after attempts to repair its main engine failed.

The F.V. Janas started experiencing problems with its engine on Sunday about 40 nautical miles south east of Macquarie Island.

The Aurora Australis came to its aid, towing the vessel out of a storm front to the safety of Macquarie Island.

Australian Antarctic Division Voyage Leader, Rob Bryson, said once in the lee of the island work got underway to fix the engine’s damaged head gasket.

“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the Aurora crew and the personnel on Macquarie Island, we have been unable to repair the engine and will now tow the boat 340 nautical miles north east to Auckland Island,” Mr Bryson said.

“Another vessel from the fishing company will meet the Janas at Auckland Island to either repair the vessel or tow it back to New Zealand where it can be properly fixed.”

It’s expected the trip to Auckland Island will be about 2 days depending on weather and sea conditions.

Aurora Australis will then return the 870 nautical miles to Hobart in about 3 days.

The ship is currently under charter to the Royal Australian Navy and has been working at Macquarie Island as part of the Australian Antarctic program.