Preparations are being made to send a support vessel to the Southern Ocean to accompany Australia’s chartered Antarctic resupply vessel MPV Everest back to Fremantle.

MPV Everest experienced a fire in its port engine room on Monday, and the ship has continued travelling north using its starboard engine room.

The vessel is now 1200 nautical miles south of Fremantle, travelling at about 10 knots.

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) General Manager of Operations, Charlton Clark, said the vessel is not in distress and is making way under its own power.

“As a precautionary measure the AAD and the ship’s owner, Maritime Construction Services (MCS), have identified two potential support vessels to meet MPV Everest,” Mr Clark said.

“Both vessels are in Western Australia and are being assessed for their technical capabilities.”

“A decision about which one is most suitable for the Southern Ocean voyage will be made as soon as possible.”

“For expeditioners on board, having a secondary vessel nearby will hopefully provide some reassurance.”

Late yesterday a maintenance issue with the starboard ship’s generator, which provides propulsion to the vessel, was rectified.

The generator was shut down for an hour, so the repairs could be made. The ship then continued under its own power.

“Our focus is the safety and well-being of our expeditioners and we are focused on getting them home as quickly as possible,” he said.

There are 109 expeditioners and crew on board the vessel. No-one was injured in the fire that engulfed the port engine room and two Inflatable rubber boats on the deck.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Response Centre is continuing to monitor the transit of MPV Everest and is in regular communication with the vessel.