The Australian Antarctic icebreaker, Aurora Australis, has departed Casey research station to return to Australia.

The ship weighed anchor to leave Casey at 1600 hours (AEDST) carrying summer personnel, scientists and cargo for return to Australia. The 52 passengers rescued from the Akademik Shokalskiy, who have been well-cared for on board during resupply, are looking forward to the trip home.

The journey to Hobart will take approximately seven to eight days and Aurora Australis is expected to arrive in Hobart on or about 22 January, about 14 days later than originally scheduled.

The ship has completed the necessary discharge of cargo to supply Casey research station for the winter season, including over 500,000 litres of Special Antarctic Blend fuel, food, machinery and equipment.

The icebreaker is the backbone of the Australian Antarctic program, resupplying all four Australian research stations and transferring personnel. It is also the platform from which we conduct long-term research in the Southern Ocean.

Aurora Australis will undertake two more voyages to Australia’s Antarctic and subantarctic research stations, making a total of four voyages for the 2013/14 season.