Tasmanian developed and designed transport equipment supporting Korean and French on-ice operations is bound for the Antarctic.

The Korean Antarctic resupply vessel Araon sails Sunday with ice sleds and trailers built by Elphinstone Engineering at Triabunna.

The equipment was commissioned by the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) for use at its two research stations.

Elphinstone Engineering CEO, Mr Graeme Elphinstone, said his company has been working with Korean engineers this year on equipment designs specific to their needs of transporting people, supplies and fuel between bases.

“The project is important to Tasmania because it helps foster the development of new skills in our work teams that are primarily engaged in manufacturing trailers for the timber industry.

“While we have been meeting many of the needs in trailer transport for the French polar expeditions since 1993, this new work for Korea is part of a developing collaboration that we hope will continue to grow through their Antarctic science and research programs,” Mr Elphinstone said.

Two Challenger tractors were supplied by William Adams in Hobart to the Korea expedition in 2013.  William Adams Polar Manager, Mr Peter Fewkes, said Korean interest in Tasmanian engineering capability and supply is growing.

“The country has an interest in expanding its Antarctic science and environmental research program and while it is presently comparatively small Tasmania has a vibrant engineering and Antarctic environmental sciences community actively engaging with the Korean program,” Mr Fewkes said.

The Tasmanian Polar Network and Antarctic Tasmania had been discussing opportunities for collaboration with the Korean Antarctic Program since 2007, highlighting the existing supportive relationship out of Hobart for the Australian, French and Chinese expeditions.

The Chair of the TPN, John Brennan, said that recent port calls and commercial transactions with the Koreans is further evidence that Tasmania is being recognised by other nations as an important gateway to Antarctica.

“Future growth will not only create commercial, science and research opportunities but we have to ensure that we invest in appropriate infrastructure to accommodate the sector and make the most of what it has to offer” Mr Brennan said

The new trailers were loaded on to the Araon during its extended Hobart port call this week.

New facilities for the French program will leave for the French Antarctic base, Dumont D’Urville, when the resupply ship L’Astrolabe makes its second voyage south for the season later next week.