Aurora (ship, 1876)

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The aurora
The aurora
Ship data
Ship type Auxiliary sailors
Owner Dundee Seal and Whale Fishing Company
Shipyard Alexander Stephen and Sons, Dundee
Whereabouts Lost in 1917
Ship dimensions and crew
50.40 m ( Lüa )
width 9.30 m
measurement 580 GRT
Rigging and rigging
Number of masts 3
Machine system
machine 1 × compound steam engine
propeller 1 × fixed propeller

The Aurora was a sailing steamship built by the Scottish shipbuilding company Alexander Stephen and Sons Ltd. built in Glasgow , Scotland for the Dundee Seal and Whale Fishing Company and completed in February 1877. Its original purpose was whaling in the northern seas. It was heavily built to withstand the heavy weather and ice there. This resilience has also proven itself for exploring the Antarctic . Between 1911 and 1917, the Aurora made five trips to this continent, both for exploration and rescue operations.

Time before 1910

The Aurora traveled annually from Dundee to St. John's, Newfoundland , between 1876 and 1910 to hunt whales and seals in the Arctic. In 1884 she participated (unsuccessfully) in the search expedition for Adolphus Greely's polar expedition . In 1891 she rescued the crew of the Polynia , which had been crushed in the pack ice.

Douglas Mawson Expedition

In 1910, the Aurora was bought by Douglas Mawson for his Australasian Antarctic expedition . The Aurora made the trip in December 1911 from Hobart , Australia to Macquarie Island , Mawson's base, and then on to Cape Denison, where it dropped Mawson and his companions. She then returned to Hobart and did not come back until December 1912, initially not meeting Mawson and leaving a rescue team behind. Shortly after the departure, Mawson returned to the camp as the only survivor of a sled expedition, but Mawson could not take in the recalled Aurora due to the weather. He stayed in Antarctica for another year and didn't return on the Aurora until December 1913 .

Endurance expedition

In 1914 she participated in the Endurance expedition of Ernest Shackleton , where she as part of the Ross Sea party docked depots. She was trapped in the ice in May 1915 and was only released again in February 1916. She arrived in Dunedin on April 3rd . She returned to Antarctica in January 1917 to retrieve the survivors of the Ross Sea Party that she had set ashore. The expedition was funded by the Australian, New Zealand and British governments, and Shackleton was on board after his return from Antarctica, but was in sole command at the urging of the governments of the captain of the Aurora , John King Davis (1884-1967), who was already on board Captain of the Aurora on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition from Mawson and then commanded Australian troop transports in World War I. Seven survivors of the original ten-person Ross Sea Party were taken on board and taken to Wellington , where they arrived on February 9.


On June 20, 1917, the Aurora left the port of Newcastle (Australia) with a cargo of coal for Iquique in Chile . The ship has been missing since then. There were suspicions at the time that she had become a victim of the First World War. On January 2, 1918, the ship was declared lost at Lloyd's of London .


The ship is named after the Aurora subglacial basin , Aurora Heights , Mount Aurora , Aurora Peak and the Aurora Glacier in Antarctica.


  • John King Davis: With the Aurora in the Antarctic. 1911–1914 , Andrew Melrose, London 1919

Web links

Commons : Aurora (Schiff, 1876)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. First Director of Navigation of the Commonwealth , which he was for almost 30 years. He returned to Antarctica several times and was a member of the Australian Antarctic Planning Committee in 1947 - two years before his retirement. An Australian Antarctic station was named after him. Biography ( Memento from May 31, 2011 in the Internet Archive )