Fill-in Antarctic supply ship breaks down

A cargo ship chartered to replace Australia's broken $528 million icebreaker has been forced to turn back from an Antarctic re-supply voyage due to mechanical problems.

The MV Happy Diamond returned on Tuesday to port in Hobart after leaving earlier in November on a supply trip to the frozen continent.

The vessel has been chartered for the summer season to help cover for new icebreaker RSV Nuyina, which is out of action while undergoing maintenance.

Australian Antarctic Division operations and safety manager, Charlton Clark, said Happy Diamond had returned to Hobart twice during the voyage for repairs.

He said electrical components were replaced last week.

"Sea trials have been conducted ... after it returned to Tasmania on Tuesday for mechanical repairs," Mr Clark said in a statement on Friday.

"Once the trials are complete, preparations will be made for it to resupply Casey, Davis and Mawson stations in December and January."

Mr Clark said the impact of the cancelled voyage was being assessed but it is not expected to delay the return of expeditioners from Antarctica.

He said a second ship chartered to help replace Nuyina, Aiviq, was currently refuelling Davis station and changing over summer and winter expeditioner teams.

"The Australian Antarctic Division is highly experienced in implementing contingency plans and adapting to the challenges posed by operating in the Antarctic environment," Mr Clark said.

Nuyina, which arrived in Hobart in October 2021 after delays in construction, is likely to be out of action for the 2022/23 season.

The 160 metre flagship vessel experienced motor problems shortly after arriving and will be in a commissioning and trial phase for the first two years of its service.