RV Araon is a South Korean research icebreaker of approximately 7000 tonne displacement. It was completed at the end of 2009 and made its first voyage in January 2010, travelling from Korea to Lyttelton, a distance of some 11000 km, before heading towards the South Pole. The ship supports South Korean polar stations in both Arctica and Antarctica. The country had an existing station at King George Island in Antarctica and during the 2010 voyage opportunity was taken to survey a site at Terra Nova Bay, some 350 km north of the US and NZ bases at Ross Island. According to the Lyttelton Port Company website, the ship has come up to New Zealand from Terranova and is scheduled to return there after the completion of its port visit.
Next week another interesting visitor will come into the port and tie up at the same wharf: Briese Schiffahrts’ ice strengthened container vessel BBC Ems, said to be on its way to “McMurdo”. It is already in NZ waters being due to dock at Auckland tomorrow evening, and should reach Christchurch at about midday on Wednesday 26th January for a 24 hour stopover. Ems is another fairly new vessel having been built in China in 2006 and is 17500 tonne deadweight. It can carry 958 TEUs. Its main engine produces 7000 kW and it has three cranes fitted. Based on the destination it would appear Ems is here to make the annual cargo delivery voyage to McMurdo Sound in support of the US and NZ Antarctic Programmes. MV American Tern as previously mentioned carried out this role up until its last trip a year ago. Ems would be expected to return to Christchurch on its way home in order to offload collected cargo from McMurdo before heading back north.
There is also a voyage by a tanker, however it is generally using a US Navy tanker and it’s unclear what route this vessel takes on its way to and from the Ice.