25 Feb 2016

Icebreaker runs aground in Antarctic blizzard

7:31 am on 25 February 2016

Nearly 70 people are sitting out an Antarctic blizzard on the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis which has run aground near their base, Mawson Station.

The ship was on a mission to resupply the outpost.

The Aurora Australis in Antarctica in 2003.

The Aurora Australis in Antarctica in 2003. Photo: AFP / Citizenside / Olivier Staiger

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) confirmed the icebreaker had broken free of its mooring lines during a blizzard on Wednesday afternoon.

AAD officials said there were a total of 67 expedition members and crew on board at the time of the incident but no-one was injured.

The ship is believed to be watertight but blizzard conditions are hampering a full assessment of damage to the hull.

The AAD said winds of up to 130km/h were recorded just before the ship broke its lines.

Forecasters said blizzard conditions were expected to continue for the next 24 hours.

The ship left Hobart on 11 January and had been involved in marine science efforts in Antarctic waters and arrived at Mawson Station for resupply last weekend.

Aurora Australis is owned by P&O Maritime Services but is chartered by the AAD for research missions to Antarctica.

The ship, which came into service in 1989, is due to be replaced by a new $A500 million icebreaker in 2019.