A seriously ill man has begun a two-week ocean voyage on an icebreaker from an Australian Antarctic base to a hospital in Australia, officials said Monday.

The man was flown by helicopter on Sunday night in cold and snowy conditions from Davis Station on the coast of Princess Elizabeth Land to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, the Australian Antarctic Division said in a statement.

The icebreaker is expected to reach the southern Australian city of Hobart around April 4, it said.

Authorities have released no personal details about the man, who is a tradesman. They have not revealed the nature of his medical emergency, other than to describe his condition as "serious but stable."

The man arrived at the Australian base in November and was supposed to spend the approaching southern winter there, the statement there.

He became ill on Wednesday only days after the icebreaker had resupplied the station and begun its 3,000 mile journey back to Hobart.

The icebreaker turned back for Davis on Thursday when it was 345 miles from the base. The patient was then flown to the ship.

The icebreaker on Monday had 115 miles of sea ice to negotiate before reaching open water, the statement said.