The Aurora, affectionately known as the “Orange Roughy”, this week returned from its final voyage for the Australian Antarctic Division where it delivered 12 months worth of cargo, food and fuel to remote Macquarie Island.
Norfolk Island is dealing with a growing crisis following the loss of one of two vessels that previously supplied the island, along with a massive reduction in air travel, resulting in chronic shortages of food, stock feed, building materials, and other essential supplies needed by the island’s 1,800 residents.
With no port, and without the ability to handle containerised freight, the island has been left dependent on a single small vessel sailing once every two months from Auckland. For the limited goods that are supplied, freight costs have led to the doubling of prices compared to mainland Australia.
The Maritime Union of Australia argues the Aurora Australis is uniquely suited to addressing the crisis facing Norfolk Island. Not only does it have the capacity to carry 1,790 cubic metres non-containerised break bulk cargo, along with an additional deck capacity for 700 tonnes of containerised freight, but it has three decades of experience delivering supplies to remote locations.
The vessel can also carry and transfer nearly two million litres of fuel, meaning it would be able to provide all the fuel needed by vehicles, heavy machinery, and the airport on Norfolk Island.