An Antarctic cargo vessel chartered for replacing Australia’s impaired icebreaker is headed back to Hobart after it ran aground at Mawson Station in the middle of a resupply mission.
The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has reportedly chartered the Happy Diamond after its multimillion-dollar icebreaker, dubbed the RSV Nuyina, was compelled to miss the season owing to unforeseen mechanical glitches that have had it stuck in Singapore for much-needed repairs.
The AAD reportedly mentioned that the Happy Diamond hit a shoal off the Antarctic station yesterday and was grounded for about an hour.
Minor damages have happened to a ballast water tank, and the vessel operator, Big Lift Shipping B.V., has assessed that no danger is posed to the vessel, personnel, or the environment, a spokesperson mentioned.
The vessel had successfully finished its resupply at Australian Casey and Davis stations in Antarctica and was in the ultimate stages of resupply activities at Mawson.
The incident will be investigated and reported by the operator of the vessel, Big Lift Shipping B.V., in association with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
No one was injured, but it’s the latest in a line of issues and delays that have plagued the Antarctic mission.
Dubbed “Disneyland for scientists”, the $528-million Nuyina was reportedly touted as being empowered with next-gen technology, but it first experienced motor trouble before arriving in Hobart in 2021 (October).
Its maiden voyage to Antarctica was later delayed owing to an issue with the monitoring and alarm system.
Months later, while undergoing clutch system repairs, its manufacturer assessed that the shaft couplings needed replacing, indicating that it’d miss the current year’s season.
The AAD has reportedly chartered Happy Diamond and the icebreaker named Aiviq to mitigate the loss of Aurora Australis’s successor. However, in November 2022, Happy Diamond was compelled to return to Hobart in the middle of a cargo mission owing to mechanical issues.
The AAD mentioned that Happy Diamond was sailing back to Hobart as scheduled. Aiviq escorted it via sea ice.
It mentioned that Nuyina was expected to return to Australia in April 2023. Like new and complex vessels, it’d need time to commission as it prepares to serve Australia’s Southern Ocean and Antarctic science efforts in the decades.
References: ABC, MSN