Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley has paid tribute to Australia’s Antarctic expeditioners retuning safely after up to 535 days ‘on ice’ and a challenging homeward journey.
Seventy-two expeditioners and 37 crew aboard the MPV Everest berthed in Fremantle this evening, having braved Southern Ocean swells and navigated around a major storm front, after an on-board fire and the loss of one of the vessel’s engines on its journey home.
“In an era where people take Australia’s presence in the Antarctic almost for granted, this year has been a reminder of the challenges our dedicated men and women face and overcome in the name of scientific research,” Minister Ley said.
“Even with the use of the most advanced ships and planes, the Antarctic is still a fierce environment and the Southern Ocean a constant test for any vessel.
“Keeping our Australian Antarctic Division stations COVID-19 free has meant that some expeditioners from Davis and Mawson stations have been away from family and friends for 535 days.
“When the first of them went south in late 2019, COVID was a foreign word. When Australia was in the first stages of experiencing lockdowns in 2020, I well remember the inspiration of those like Davis station leader Dave Knoff and his team whose social media messages about isolation strategies went viral, helping many people at home.
“It is great to see everyone return safely. I thank them and their families for their dedication and resilience, and wish them a well-earned rest at home.”