The Aurora Australis remains aground at Mawson research station, with blizzard conditions continuing today.

The Aurora Australis broke free of its mooring lines at 3:15pm AEDT yesterday (09:15am Mawson time, 24 February) during a blizzard. The ship remains aground at West Arm in Horseshoe Harbour.

A total of 68 expeditioners and crew are on board, and all remain safe and well.

The ship remains watertight. Crew are closely monitoring the hull from inside the ship, however current blizzard conditions are hampering a full assessment of the ship.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is working closely with P&O Maritime Services, owners of the Aurora Australis, to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew as a priority.

When the weather conditions allow, expeditioners will be transferred to Mawson research station. Winds must drop below 55km/h before any transfer takes place and the current blizzard conditions are forecast to ease overnight (Thursday, 25 February).

As a precaution, we are considering mitigation plans in the event of any fuel spill. The ship remains watertight at this time.

The capacity of the ship to continue all of the current voyage remains unknown however the AAD has a range of aviation and shipping contingency plans in development to achieve the voyage objectives by other means.

The Aurora Australis departed Hobart on 11 January 2016 and has been undertaking marine science around the Kerguelen Plateau region. It arrived at Mawson for resupply on Saturday (20 February 2016) and was due to depart Mawson research station in the coming days when it was to head to Davis research station to collect a number of expeditioners before returning to Australia between 15 and 23 March.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.