Two of the world’s largest research icebreakers got themselves into trouble during February when Germany’s 34-year-old Polarstern suffered hydraulic problems and Australia’s 27-year-old Aurora Australis broke free of its moorings and ran aground, both in Antarctica.

Polarstern, operated by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute, was forced to return to Germany for repairs, while Aurora Australis, operating under the auspices of the Australian Antarctic Division, suffered a hull breach and will also have to be repaired.

Both ships are up for replacement, with a new icebreaker for Australia being designed by Denmark’s Knud E. Hansen while Germany’s Lübeck-based Reederei F.Laeisz has been retained to design a replacement for Polarstern.


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