Icebreaker leaves Australia after 150 Antarctica trips

The giant orange icebreaker Aurora Australis left Australia for the final time on Saturday after more than 150 trips to Antarctica.

Icebreaker leaves Australia after 150 Antarctica trips
Photo: Sarah Motherwell/AAP Image via AP

Next stop: a shipyard in Dubai, where it will be refurbished and either leased or sold.

The Australian Antarctic Division announced earlier this year that after 30 years of sailing to the frozen continent for research and to support Australian bases in Antarctica, the Aurora Australis would be replaced by a larger ship.

The 95-meter (312-foot) Aurora Australis was built in Newcastle north of Sydney and launched in September 1989. It undertook its maiden voyage to Heard Island, an external Australian territory in Antarctica, in 1990.

It has since ferried researchers, crucial food and fuel supplies and been involved in several rescues.

In December 2013, it transported 52 people from the MV Akademik Shokalskiy to safety after the Russian ship became stranded in thick ice.

The Aurora Australis will be replaced by the $398 million RSV Nuyina, named after a Tasmanian Aboriginal word for southern lights.

The new ship, currently undergoing sea trials in Europe after some construction delays, is expected to be in Hobart by the middle of next year.

It will carry up to 117 crew and travelers, 1,200 metric tons of cargo and nearly 2 million liters (500,000 gallons) of fuel, substantially more than the Aurora Australis, which completed its last Antarctic supply trip in March.