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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment

ANTARCTIC SHIPPING PROGRAM SET TO RESUME


21 August 1998

"The Australian Antarctic shipping program, disrupted recently by an engine room fire which damaged the icebreaker Aurora Australis, is set to resume close to its original schedule" Senator Ian Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic, said today.

This follows confirmation today that a replacement vessel will be arranged while the repairs to Aurora are completed.

P & O Polar, owners of the Aurora Australis, working with the Antarctic Division, have arranged for the Norwegian owned ice-strengthened cargo vessel, Polar Bird, to undertake the second, and possibly the third, of the remaining voyages scheduled in support of Australia's 1998-99 Antarctic Program.

"It is expected that Polar Bird will depart Hobart around 7 or 8 September on Voyage 2, just a few days later than originally scheduled" Senator Macdonald said.

Under its original name of Icebird, Polar Bird undertook 43 voyages for Australia's Antarctic Program, transporting cargo and passengers from 1984 to 1994. In 1995-96 it undertook a further two voyages for the Australian program.

Anyone requiring further information on voyage schedules is advised to call the Division's recorded information service on 1800 030 755.

Contacts:
Rex Moncur, Director, Antarctic Division 03 6232 3200 or mobile 0419 399 009
Ross Brewer, P & O Maritime 0411 141 011

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