Chinese and Russian Ships Freed in Antarctica – UPDATE

Mike Schuler
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January 7, 2014

UPDATE: The AMSA has confirmed late Tuesday that their response to the incident has ended after both captains of the MV Akademik Shokalski and Xue Long icebreaker confirmed that they no longer needed assistance. The USCGC Polar Star has also been released and will continue to McMurdo Station as originally planned.

EARLIER:

The Russian expedition vessel MV Akademik Shokalski and the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long have broken free of heavy ice and are making progress towards open water, the AMSA has confirmed. 

AMSA reports that the captains of the Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long notified the Australian RCC that they had cleared the heaviest ice on Tuesday at approximately 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. AEDT, respectively, after shifting ice formed cracks around the vessels.

The Xue Long was one of two icebreakers assisting the MV Akademik Shokalskiy after it became beset by ice on December 24, 2013 with 52 passengers, mostly scientists and tourists, and 22 crew. The passengers had just been rescued by the Xue Long’s helicopter on January 2nd and transferred to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis when the Xue Long also became stuck in the ice floe.

The Aurora Australis was put on standby for a short period after the vessel became stuck, but was eventually released. The Xue Long later requested assistance from the U.S. icebreaker USCGC Polar Star. The AMSA report says that the USCGC Polar Star will continue to head towards the area until both vessels have given the all clear.

The crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy remains onboard the vessel.

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