Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

2 icebreakers trapped in Antarctica break free

Jan. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice. The Russian research ship and a Chinese icebreaker freed themselves Jan. 7 after being trapped since Christmas Eve.
The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice. The Russian research ship and a Chinese icebreaker freed themselves Jan. 7 after being trapped since Christmas Eve. (Andrew Peacock / AP)
  • Filed Under

BEIJING — A Russian research ship at the center of an Antarctic rescue drama has broken free from heavy pack ice two weeks after it became trapped, officials confirmed on Wednesday, hours after a Chinese icebreaker that became trapped while trying to help the Akademik Shokalskiy also freed itself and was heading for open waters.

The Akademik Shokalskiy had been trapped in ice-clogged Commonwealth Bay since Christmas Eve, while the Chinese ship that came to its rescue, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon in Chinese, reported last week it too was stuck.

But the Snow Dragon was able to use its helicopter to retrieve 52 scientists, journalists and tourists from the Russian ship. They are now on their way home aboard an Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis.

The Chinese official Xinhua News Agency reported from the Snow Dragon, with 101 crew aboard, on Tuesday that it successfully escaped after making a 100-degree turn and pushing away the ice, and opening up a channel of water.

Russia's state news agency ITAR-Tass reported that the Akademik Shokalskiy, with its 22 crew who had stayed on board, was making its way out of the dense ice on its own.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which is responsible for rescues in the region, said it was informed early Wednesday that both ships had managed to break free and were making slow progress through lighter ice conditions toward open water.

The center's spokesman Sam Cardwell told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that a shift in the winds "...took the pressure off the ice and allowed them to break free."

A U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker, Polar Star, cut short an Australian stopover on Sunday to head to the rescue of the two icebreakers by clearing a navigational path through Commonwealth Bay. The journey from Sydney was expected to take the 122-meter (399-foot) cutter a week.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that the Polar Star had now changed its course for Antarctica's Ross Sea to fulfill its original mission.

The Polar Star left its Seattle homeport last month on a mission to break a channel through the sea ice of McMurdo Sound to allow the resupply and refueling of the U.S. Antarctic Program's McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations.

The Australian icebreaker was headed toward Australia's Casey Station, which it will resupply before returning to the Australian state of Tasmania with the 52 passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

The push for pullups
Why soldiers want it added to PT test

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
   Last Post: garhkal
        Apr 19, 2014 3:13 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        Apr 15, 2014 4:55 PM
   Last Post: Shaken1976
        Apr 15, 2014 5:13 PM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook