Australia Launches Mission to Rescue Antarctic Researcher

The RSV Nuyina set off from Hobart in Tasmania last week

Australia Launches Mission to Rescue Antarctic Researcher

Australia has initiated an urgent operation to rescue a researcher with a “developing medical condition” from the remote Casey outpost in Antarctica.

The Australian Antarctic Program (AAP) announced that the icebreaker RSV Nuyina departed from Tasmania last week for this mission.

Due to harsh conditions, an air rescue was ruled out, necessitating the long voyage of the RSV Nuyina.

While the AAP did not disclose the specific medical condition, they emphasized the need for specialist treatment.

The preparation for this mission, including equipping the Nuyina with helicopters, took several weeks, according to the program.

The Casey research station, one of three permanent Antarctic stations managed by the AAP, is located 2,139 miles (3,443km) from Hobart, Tasmania.

The Nuyina, a vessel that cost A$528 million ($342 million; £271 million) to build, can reach a top speed of 16 knots, or approximately 18 miles per hour, requiring several days for the journey.

Air evacuation was not feasible as the nearby Wilkins aerodrome near Casey features an ice runway that is often unusable during harsh winters.

Australia Launches Mission to Rescue Antarctic Researcher

Casey Research Station is manned by around 20 people in winter

Australia Launches Mission to Rescue Antarctic Researcher

Reportedly, the runway would require weeks of preparation, making the icebreaker a quicker alternative.

Medical facilities at the research station are limited, and only about 20 people reside there during the harsh winter months.

The AAP underscored that the “wellbeing of our people is our highest priority” and stated that the researcher’s family has been informed of the situation.

“All other personnel on stations are accounted for and safe,” they added.

Australia mandates extensive medical examinations for researchers bound for Antarctica.

Evacuations from this challenging region of the world are typically intricate, costly, and perilous, often requiring assistance from international partners.

In December 2020, Australia enlisted aid from the US and China for an evacuation mission.

Earlier the same year, an Australian Airbus A319 was dispatched to McMurdo station to evacuate an unwell American.

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