Japan will help repatriate Australian Antarctic expeditioners after the Aurora Australis icebreaker was damaged during a blizzard.
While the vessel makes its way back to Australia for repairs without its planned passenger load, the Japanese icebreaker Shirase will help ferry 66 expeditioners between Mawson and Davis stations so they can return home by air.
"Japan have been fantastic in letting us know their icebreaker was in the area, they've had to divert from some science they were going to do ... so we really are very grateful for them doing that," Australian Antarctic Division boss Nick Gales told reporters on Friday.
The Aurora Australis broke its moorings on February 24 during a blizzard near Mawson station and was blown onto rocks, sustaining hull damage.
It was assessed as seaworthy and is en route to Western Australia carrying only minimal crew, therefore leaving stranded the researchers it was due to bring back to Hobart.
"It's heading carefully through the Southern Ocean," Dr Gales said of the icebreaker, which was some 500 nautical miles north of Mawson station on Friday.
"We're using the very best weather routing we can just to minimise the stresses on the vessel as it heads toward Fremantle and it's expected to get there in about another 10 days time."
The Japanese vessel is expected to reach Mawson station by Sunday and then take up to four days to transfer the expeditioners to Casey station, from where they will be flown back to Australia on the Division's aircraft.
Dr Gales said there has been no agreement of financial compensation to Japan for its assistance, but signalled a willingness to cover any "additional costs".
"The most important thing at the moment is just to get the ship in there and get people home."
The cost of the Aurora Australis incident is yet to be calculated, Dr Gales said.
Ship owner P&O Maritime is responsible for repairing the vessel.