Australia’s Antarctic resupply ship, Aurora Australis, today returned from this season’s first voyage south after encountering heavy sea ice en route back to Hobart.

The ship left Hobart on October 15, to resupply Davis station and deliver 90 summer personnel.

It was due to arrive back on November 16, with 24 expeditioners who have spent the past year in Antarctica, however, thick pack-ice conditions delayed its return.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Tony Fleming said that the ship’s delayed arrival and the recent helicopter crash near Davis station have necessitated changes to subsequent voyages and some research projects.

“To ensure the Antarctic season can progress with minimal disruption, we have combined the next two voyages into one extended voyage visiting Macquarie Island before continuing on to resupply Casey station.

“This will preserve the work plans of the majority of projects scheduled for the Australian Antarctic program for the current season,” Dr Fleming said.