The Australian Antarctic Division has revised its shipping schedule following the rescue of passengers from the beset Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy. The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Tony Fleming said today the icebreaker Aurora Australis is currently making its way to Casey station with the additional 52 passengers aboard and is expected to arrive there overnight.

Dr Fleming said the Antarctic Division would complete the annual resupply of Casey station which was interrupted when the Aurora Australis was tasked by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to go to the assistance of the stricken vessel some 800 nautical miles away.

“This will include discharging the remaining cargo and loading material for return to Australia. It will unload about 500,000 litres of fuel and, if weather conditions permit, hopefully allow the completion of some programs interrupted when the ship was diverted on its rescue mission.

The 52 passengers rescued from the Akademik Shokalskiy will remain on the Aurora Australis during the resupply activities.

“The ship should be ready to head back to Tasmania around 13 January, arriving in Hobart on or about 22 January,” Dr Fleming said.

“This is about two weeks behind schedule and will mean delays to the rest of the season.”

Voyage 4, which will resupply Mawson station and then retrieve summer personnel and some scientific samples from Davis and Casey stations, is now planned to depart on 25 January.

Dr Fleming said that as always when planning any operational activities in Antarctica, a range of factors could still impact on this revised schedule.

“It has been a dynamic season and we have faced a range of challenges but have been able to complete a number of programs which is a credit to all involved.”