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Korean Icebreaker to visit Lyttelton on its maiden

Joint CCC and Antarctica New Zealand media release:

Korean Icebreaker to visit Lyttelton on its maiden voyage

Lyttelton will be the first port of call this summer for Korea’s new Icebreaker the ‘Araon’.

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker and Antarctica New Zealand Chief Executive Lou Sanson both welcomed the Araon’s forthcoming visit.

“This City's association with Antarctica, both historically and in the present times, is of great strategic, scientific and economic importance,” said Mayor Parker.

We are keen to aid Antarctica New Zealand build and foster strong relationships with polar explorers like Korea.”

“We look forward to welcoming the Araon and working with the Korean Polar Research Institute on their research in the Ross Sea,” said Mr Sanson.

The capabilities of this icebreaker mean that Korea is now a significant partner in Antarctic science and we congratulate them on her inaugural voyage.”

The recently launched 6,950-ton ship will be conducting sea trials in the Ross Sea in January 2010. The Araon is the result of a NZ$108 million investment by the Korean government and has a range of 37,000 kilometres without refuelling which allows voyages of up to 70 days. The ship is designed to operate in up to one-metre-thick,multiple-year ice and can accommodate up to 65 scientists and 25 crew. The name ‘Araon’ is a mixture of Korean words for ‘sea’ (ara) and ‘all’ (on).

Korea operates its existing year-round station, the King Sejong on King George Island in the Antarctic Peninsula, and also has research facilities at Dasan Station, in Ny-Alesund, Svalbard Islands in the Arctic.

The voyage south in late January will allow the Araon to undergo sea trials as well as scope out potential sites for an additional land base in Antarctica. Three potential sites will be surveyed: Cape Burkes, Enderby Land or Terra Nova Bay. In addition, the following summer season the icebreaker will be used to re-provision the existing Antarctic and Arctic stations as well as supporting the construction of the second Antarctic station.

The Icebreaker is scheduled to arrive in Lyttelton Port at 6am this Friday 8 January 2010.

The Araon will be officially welcomed to Lyttelton by Mayor Parker, the Korean Ambassador to New Zealand HE Kwang-il Noh, representatives of the local Korean and Antarctic communities, and Director-General of the Korean Polar Research Institute Dr Lee at 10 am on Saturday 9 January 2010.

The civic welcome will include a powhiri and a performance by a local Samul Nori Korean drum group. Antarctica New Zealand will then host a lunch for the Korean delegation.

The Araon will return to Lyttelton from her voyage to Antarctica in late February.

Important information for the media:

Port of Lyttelton will greet the arrival of the Icebreaker with water cannons upon its scheduled arrival at 6am this Friday 8 January. If you wish to access the wharf for photographs you must bring photo ID.

If you intend to cover the Civic Welcome at 10am on Saturday 9 January, for security reasons all members of the media must bring photo ID . Please reply to Robyn Fennell if you wish to attend (contact details at the end of this media release).

Important information for members of the public:

For security reasons, members of the public are not allowed onto the wharf. Viewing points for the Civic Welcome, starting at 10am on Saturday 9 January, are the public footpath on the Oxford Street overbridge or along Sumner Road.

ENDS

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