The Japanese icebreaker Shirase has collected 66 expeditioners from Mawson research station in a series of helicopter flights over eight hours yesterday (6 March).

Passengers and cargo were transferred approximately 17 kilometres from Mawson research station to the Shirase using three B3 helicopters.

The Shirase is now on its way to Casey research station. The 2300 kilometre voyage is expected to take between three and four days.

Expeditioners will be flown from Wilkins Aerodrome, near Casey, to Hobart on the Division’s Airbus A319. They are expected to arrive in Hobart around 13–20 March, subject to suitable weather conditions.

The expeditioners had been scheduled to return home on the Aurora Australis which was damaged when it was grounded during a blizzard on 24 February.

The Aurora Australis departed Mawson research station last week (2 March) with essential personnel only on board for the voyage back to Australia, and will arrive in Fremantle for repairs this coming weekend.

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong will visit Davis research station tomorrow (8 March) to collect some critical science samples and cargo, along with two expeditioners returning to Australia.