On behalf of the Australian Government I would like to thank all those involved in the successful operation to refloat the Aurora Australis late last night (Friday, Hobart time).
This has been an exceptionally difficult operation in a dangerous and hostile environment.
After breaking mooring lines during a blizzard on Wednesday, I am pleased to report that the attempt to refloat the Aurora Australis was successful, and that the ship has been able to leave Horseshoe Harbour.
I particularly thank the crew of P&O Maritime and the Australian Antarctic Division, who have worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of all expeditioners and crew during these testing circumstances.
The 37 expeditioners who had been on Aurora Australis for a successfully completed marine science voyage were all transferred safely via landing barge to Mawson research station.
Engineers on board the Aurora Australis will spend the next 2-3 days thoroughly evaluating what damage has been sustained by the grounding event, and assessing the safest options for the return voyage to Australia.
There remains much work to be done, with expeditioners yet to return to Australia.
The Division will continue to work with other national Antarctic programs to arrange for expeditioners to travel home.
My thanks to all involved, particularly to the broader Antarctic community and the many nations which have been quick to offer logistical support to the Australian Antarctic programme.