The contract of the icebreaker Aurora Australis has been extended, taking the ship’s Antarctic service through to 2020 when Australia’s new icebreaker is due to arrive in Hobart.

The existing contract between the Australian Antarctic Division and the ship’s owner and operator P&O Maritime was due to end in March 2019.

The Aurora Australis will resupply Australia’s Antarctic stations in 2018/19 and now also in 2019/20.

Australia’s new state-of-the-art icebreaker, RSV Nuyina is due to arrive in its home port of Hobart in mid-2020 and begin its Antarctic service in the 2020/21 summer season.

The Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Nick Gales said he was pleased that the Aurora Australis was able to participate in an additional Antarctic season.

“The Aurora Australis has crossed the Southern Ocean in support of science and to resupply our stations since 1989 and we’re pleased the ship can continue to service the Program until Australia’s new icebreaker arrives in Hobart,” Dr Gales said.

P&O Maritime’s Managing Director Mr Rado Antolovic said his company was delighted to renew the contract which underlines the long-standing partnership with the Australian Antarctic Division.

“The Aurora Australis is part of our fleet of over 300 vessels providing a wide range of services for governments and customers around the world, from tugs and pilot boats to river barging and research vessels such as this.

“We look forward to supporting the Australian Antarctic Division in its important research work for the benefit of the environment and our planet.”