The Australian Antarctic Division has revised its shipping schedule due to heavy sea ice conditions adjacent to Mawson research station.

A main purpose of the voyage is to resupply Mawson research station and pick up personnel, scientific samples and some cargo from Davis and Casey research stations.

General Manager of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Support Centre, Dr Rob Wooding, said satellite imagery showed the heavy sea ice conditions near Mawson were persisting longer than expected.

Dr Wooding said the changes to the shipping schedule had nothing to do with the delayed return to Hobart earlier this week of the icebreaker Aurora Australis after its involvement in the Antarctic rescue mission.

“Sea ice conditions near Mawson are notoriously difficult and are similar this year to those experienced in 2011 when the ship was unable to reach the station,” Dr Wooding said.

The Antarctic Division has decided to reverse the order of the voyage, visiting Casey, Davis and then Mawson, to allow an opportunity for the sea ice to break out prior to the ship’s arrival at Mawson.

Aurora Australis will now leave Hobart on Wednesday 29 January to allow time to reconfigure cargo for the modified voyage.