Australia’s icebreaker RSV Aurora Australis has arrived into its homeport of Hobart for the final time with the Australian Antarctic Program.

After more than three decades of service, the Aurora Australis sailed up the River Derwent this morning, returning from its last resupply expedition to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

A series of farewell events planned to farewell the ship have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Kim Ellis, said the ship has had a colourful and exciting 31 years plying the Southern Ocean.

“The ‘Orange Roughy’ has carried more than 14,000 expeditioners on over 150 scientific research and resupply voyages to our Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations,” Mr Ellis said.

“All expeditioners who’ve sailed on the Aurora Australis have a soft spot for the icebreaker, whether it’s because the ship has enabled their science or transported them south for an Antarctic adventure.”

The ship was built in Newcastle and launched in September 1989. It’s first voyage with the Australian Antarctic Program was to Heard Island in 1990.

“The Aurora has been involved in rescuing stricken ships and injured expeditioners, as well as facing a few challenges, with engine room fires in the 90’s and running aground at Mawson station in 2016,” Mr Ellis said.

“She’s much more than a ship, she’s been a lifeline, she’s been a home, she’s been a symbol that really captures that whole Antarctic spirit.”

The delayed arrival of Australia’s new icebreaker RSV Nuyina means an alternative ship will be used next summer season.

The Australian Antarctic Division is finalising negotiations with another company to supply a vessel for a minimum of 90 days.