The Japanese icebreaker, Shirase, will pick up expeditioners from Mawson station following the grounding of the Aurora Australis during a blizzard last week (24 February). They will be taken to Casey station and flown home on the Division’s Airbus A319.

The Shirase, operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Japanese Navy) for the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), is currently en route to Mawson station from South Africa and is expected to arrive at the Australian Antarctic station over the weekend (5/6 March).

Up to 70 expeditioners will be transferred to the ship by helicopter, and will be taken on the Japanese icebreaker to Casey station. The 2300km voyage to Casey station is expected to take between three to four days.

Following their arrival at Casey research station, the expeditioners will be flown to Hobart from Wilkins Aerodrome on the Division’s Airbus A319. They are expected to arrive in Australia around 13–20 March, subject to suitable weather conditions.

Australian Antarctic Division Director, Dr Nick Gales, has welcomed the generous offer to utilise the Shirase to transport expeditioners to Casey station.

“The Australian Antarctic Division is very appreciative of this offer of assistance from the Japanese Government and the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition,” Dr Gales said.

“During what have been difficult circumstances, this offer of support once again demonstrates the nature of the Antarctic Treaty system and that nations are quick to provide support and logistical assistance where required.

“On behalf of the Australian Antarctic Division and those who are currently at Mawson station awaiting transport back to Australia, I sincerely thank the Japanese Government and the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition for their support.”