Australian researchers' ambition to keep the Aurora Australis icebreaker under the Aussie flag has been dealt a blow, with reports that the vessel has been sold to Argentina. For three decades the 'Orange Roughy' transported thousands of scientists, crew, and supplies for Australia's Antarctic mission.
The Aurora Australis, the principal research vessel in Australia for almost three decades, was originally headed to the ship-breaking beaches of south Asia, unless funds for its purchase and maintenance can be found within weeks.
Melanie Van Twest, a former archaeologist who served as a doctor during a couple of its 150 research and resupply voyages, said it faced an untimely end unless US$ 1.5 million can be raised to buy the ship from owners P&O Maritime.
The Australian-designed and built icebreaker ferried about 14,000 expeditionary across the Southern Ocean, often amid severe storms.
One severe blizzard saw the ship almost sink after it broke its moorings and smashed on to rocks at Horseshoe Harbor near Australia's Mawson Station in February 2016.