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The P&O operated vessel "Southern Supporter" is usually under charter to the Australian Customs Department and operates as a fisheries Patrol vessel in the seas around Heard and McDonald Islands watching out for Patagonian toothfish pirate fishing vessels. She has in recent seasons undertaken two widely reported long chases of such vessels both of which were eventually arrested and escorted to Australia.

In December 2003  the "Southern Supporter" was chartered by the Australian Antarctic Division to transport expeditioners to and from Heard Island from Fremantle in Western Australia.

The ship was built at Vigo, Spain in 1993. The hull which was originally designed for deep sea trawling has an Ice Class 1A rating. Fitted with three cargo holds, the ship can reach a maximum speed of 12 knots in full loaded condition. She is fitted out with state of the art safety and navigational equipment, high standard passenger/crew accommodation and related scientific & technical facilities, workshops and spaces.  She also has a helideck.

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SUPPORTER 1  2003 (DECEMBER 12th) Cover from Heard Island Expedition.   US$6

Note: The Heard Island Expedition used a postmark which shows Big Ben, which is the dominant active volcano on the Island. This postmarker had a changeable date. Big Ben is shown in the photo at right.

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SUPPORTER 2  2003 (DECEMBER 12th) Cover from Heard Island Expedition.   US$6

Note: The above cover is similar to the previous one but it has a different "Southern Supporter" cachet.

The picture at right shows a LARC which is a Lighter Amphibious Resupply Craft. The "Southern Supporter" had two LARC's on board and one is shown at right transporting cargo from the "Southern Supporter" to the shore.

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SUPPORTER 3  2004 (March 30th) Postcard from Heard Island posted Fremantle.   US$5

Note: The "Southern Supporter" departed Heard Island on 26 February and returned to Fremantle with 28 expeditioneers in early March.

The above postcard has the view of the "Southern Supporter" on the picture side as per the design shown at right.

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When the 2003-04 Expedition to Heard Island was first announced the matter of postal facilities for the expedition was discussed by the various parties involved. A provisional design for a fixed date datestamp featuring a "Globe" design was initially approved by both Australia Post and the Antarctic Division but later a changeable datestamp featuring the well known Big Ben profile was decided apon and it is this datestamp which eventually was used on the island. Because of the late change from the "Globe" to the "Big Ben" design, a number of postal items had already been prepared with the "Globe" postmarker. We show below one of these Provisional items. It should be pointed out that these provisonal "Globe" postmarked items were not taken to the island and thus do not have official Australia Post status.

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Note: For collectors wanting an example of this provisonal datestamp item we can offer an envelope as shown above for US$5   (Limited quantities available)

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