Challenging sea ice conditions are slowing efforts to evacuate a seriously ill Australian Antarctic expeditioner.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s research and resupply vessel, Aurora Australis, is now not expected to reach Davis station until late Saturday or early Sunday morning.

The ship is currently 200 nautical miles from Davis but is navigating through increasing areas of pack ice.

After leaving station earlier in the week, the Aurora Australis turned around yesterday to retrieve the Australian man whose health suddenly deteriorated.

The expeditioner is in a stable condition and receiving ongoing treatment from the station doctor and the Division’s Polar Medicine Unit.

Once at Davis the team on board the Aurora Australis and on station will spend at least 24 hours refuelling the vessel, before transferring the patient by helicopter.

It will then take about two weeks to return to Hobart.

The final voyage of the season to Macquarie Island, which was due to depart Hobart on April 2, will now not leave until at least April 5.

11 am update 20 March 2015

Australia’s icebreaker, Aurora Australis, is making good progress towards Davis station to retrieve a seriously ill expeditioner.

The ship, which only left Davis on Monday, turned around yesterday to pick up the patient.

The man remains in a serious but stable condition and is under the care of the station doctor and the Australian Antarctic Division’s Polar Medicine Unit.

Australian Antarctic Division Operations Manager, Robb Clifton, said the Aurora Australis is expected to reach Davis harbour about lunchtime on Saturday.

“The ship is about 230 nautical miles from Davis, and with the right ice and weather conditions, we expect it to reach the station within 24 hours,” Mr Clifton said.

“We will then top up the ship’s fuel supply by barge and transfer the patient by helicopter to the medical facility on board the ship.”

It’s hoped the ship will be ready to sail by Monday night. It will then take about two weeks to return to Hobart.