Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis in the sea ice of the Southern Ocean during a 2007 expedition. Photo: Sandra Zicus/Antarctic.gov

An Australian icebreaker on a scientific expedition to study sea ice in Antarctica is, well, stuck in the sea ice it is studying.

The icebreaker, a bright orange ship named the Aurora Australis, has been stuck in thick ice, completely unable to move, for more than two days approximately 200 nautical miles from Casey Station in Antarctica.

The Aurora Australis left Hobart, Tasmania for the frozen continent in September with more than 50 scientists on a 7-week expedition aimed at studying the relationship between sea ice and Southern Ocean ecosytems.

The expedition’s work, known as SIPEX 2, was set to begin at the sea ice edge and would eventually penetrate the entire pack-ice zone towards the coastal fast ice. Now, some 80 nautical miles from the Antarctic coast, it seems that the coastal fast ice has won.

The scientists and crew are in no danger and the vessel has plenty of supplies.

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  • Pandher

    Haha haha haaaaa

  • Not Joe

    Wondering if the first commenter (Joe) knows anything about ice operations. Do you think they put tuna boat sailors on these things? Of course they have experience!

    Do you have any experience in this? Do you have any idea how much mass can pile up around a boat because of the wind on the ice? Do you have any concept of how much power is required to break ice that forms around you if you are stationary trying to do scientific research? Apparently not. Ice breakers break ice generally by riding up onto the ice and using the mass of the boat to shatter the pack. That’s something that requires a little bit of space to build momentum to get up on the ice. Not happening if the pack is solid around you.

    This is also a completely different game to commercial ice-breaking; half the time the aim of these voyages is to get stuck into place. Did you note the words ‘study the sea ice’ in the article? Hard to do if you are steaming at 10 knots…

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