TWO maritime unions have urged the Australian Antarctic Division to employ Australian seafarers ahead of arrival of temporary Aurora Australis replacement

The Australian Antarctic Division is chartering the MPV Everest to do this summer’s Antarctic run, replacing the Aurora Australis until the permanent replacement vessel, RSV Nuyina, is ready the following summer.

The Everest is due to arrive in Burnie from China this Friday is crewed by foreign seafarers, albeit ones the AAD says are highly skilled.

Australian Maritime Officers Union senior industrial Officer Jarrod Moran talked of safety concerns.

“The crew of the Everest have very limited experience in Antarctica, which poses serious safety and environmental risks when they will be operating in such harsh conditions,” Mr Moran said.

“Communication could become an issue, which heightens safety risks and can impact on the ability to respond quickly and appropriately to an emergency.”

Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers senior national organiser Nathan Niven said the current arrangement also posed an unnecessary COVID risk.

“At a time when COVID is running rampant around the world, yet has been effectively contained in Australia, the use of foreign seafarers poses an unnecessary risk, particularly as we have experienced locals available,” Mr Niven said.