SIR HUBERT WILKINS

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The "Sir Hubert Wilkins" is a ice-strengthened (Ice class IA) former  state launch of Finland. It was purchased in 2000 by the Australian based company "Ocean Frontiers" owned by Antarctic veterans Don and Margie McIntyre.

  In October 2000 the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" arrived in Lyttelton for conversion to her new Antarctic role. This included the addition of a helicopter landing pad on her aft deck, new communication and safety equipment and a fancy new paint scheme. To see photos of this conversion and interior views of the vessel click here.

The vessel is based in Hobart in Tasmania and operates from there south to the Antarctic mainland in the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Ross Dependency providing logistic support for  both private and government sponsored Antarctic expeditions.

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Wilkins 1    2000 (November 22nd) autographed cover to celebrate inaugural voyage.  Price US$4

 

Note: The above cover has been autographed by Ocean Frontiers owner Don McIntyre.

He is shown at right on board the "Sir Hubert Wilkins"signing covers.

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Wilkins 2    2000 (November 22nd) Inaugural voyage cover with ships cachet.     Price US$3

********   SIR HUBERT WILKINS FIRST ANTARCTIC VOYAGE  ********

On the 16th December, 2000 The "Sir Hubert Wilkins" departed Hobart bound for the South Magnetic Pole. The Magnetic Pole has in recent years wandered offshore from the Antarctic continent north of Cape Denison in the Australian Antarctic Territory coastline and moves several kilometers per day in varying directions. For this reason no vessel had actually obtained the South Magentic Pole and so the Australian Geological Survey Organisation determined to do this on board the "Sir Hubert Wilkins". Dr Charles Barton (Geoscientist) from the Surveys base in Canberra was in charge of this operation. On the 22nd December measurements proved the vessel to be exactly at the South Magnetic Pole and the first of the expeditions aims achieved.

After the attainment of the Magnetic South Pole, the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" left for Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay which it reached on 24th December, 2000. It then offloaded the official ANARE Voyage 3.2 Expedition party which was engaged with the task of restoring the historic Mawson Hut at Cape Denison. Details of the Cape Denison Mawson Huts Restoration Expedition can be seen here including philatelic covers produced as well as the special Cape Denison Postmark. After a visit to the French Base at Dumont d'Urville,  the "Sir Hubert Wilkins" picked up the Cape Denison Mawson Huts Restoration team and departed Commonwealth Bay on  9th January 2001 for Hobart which it reached on January 16th, 2001.

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Wilkins 3    2001 (January 16th) Inaugural Antarctic voyage cover.      Price US$6

Note: The above cover has been franked with a Vanuatu stamp as the vessel is registered at Port Vila in Vanuatu. It has thus been posted paquebot on arrival in Hobart from the Antarctic.

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Wilkins 4    2001 (January 16th) Inaugural Antarctic voyage cover.      Price US$6

Note: This item differs from the previous one in that it is one of the specially printed envelopes for the Mawson's Huts team.

*******   SIR HUBERT WILKINS SECOND ANTARCTIC VOYAGE  *******

On the 7th February, 2001 "Sir Hubert Wilkins"  departed Hobart bound for the Ross Sea with a party of tourists but principally to pick up somewhere near Ross Island two women trekkers who were completing a trans-Antarctic walk.

The two woman trekkers shown at right were Ann Bancroft (left) and Liv Arnesen who had set out from the opposite side of the antarctic in November 2000, had reached the South Pole in late January and were hoping to complete their crossing by early February, 2001 in time to catch a ride back to Hobart on "Sir Hubert Wilkins".

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However bad weather and difficult conditions had slowed up the pair and it was uncertain if they would be able to make the rendevous before the pack ice forced the vessel to depart.

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Passing through ice floes

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Moored to an ice floe

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Wilkins 5    2001 (February 16th) Ice pilot autographed cover.      Price US$6

Note: This cover has been autographerd by the New Zealand ice pilot John Parsloe whowas engaged as Ice pilot on board the vessel for this expedition. The role of ice pilot is important in being able to navigate a vessel safely through ice floes, bergs and  general pack ice. It is requitred that an ice pilot is engaged on voyages where a vessel will enter pack ice. The cover has been posted at Scott Base.

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Wilkins 6    2001 (February 16th) Expedition Leader autographed cover.      Price US$6

Note: This cover has been signed by Don McIntyre the owner of the vessel and the expedition leader. It has also been posted through Scott Base.

Eventually the two trekkers ran out of time and had to be flown by aircraft to McMurdo Base from where they were picked up by the helicopter from  The "Sir Hubert Wilkins" on the 19th February, 2001and brought back to the vessel. The vessel then departed the Ross Sea area bound for MacQuarie Island. After a difficult exit through the pack ice the vessel arrived off MacQuarie Island on the 28th February, 2001.

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Wilkins 7    2001 (February 28th) Cover posted at MacQuarie Island.      Price US$5

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Wilkins 8    2001 (March 1st) Cover posted at MacQuarie Island.      Price US$6

Note: this cover bears a "Sir Hubert Wilkins" ship sticker at lower left. We have some unused stickers of this and the one for the Bancroft/Arnesen expedition available as follows;

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Wilkins Stickers US$2

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Bancroft/Arneson Sticker US$2

The vessel finally arrived back in Hobart on Monday 5th March, 2001.


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