Antarctic mission over as ships clear ice

2014-01-08 09:40
The MV Akademik Shokalskiy when it was still stuck in the ice off East Antarctica. (Andrew Peacock, AFP)

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy when it was still stuck in the ice off East Antarctica. (Andrew Peacock, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sydney - A complex international operation to free a Russian ship trapped in Antarctica ended on Wednesday when the vessel cleared the ice field, as officials released a United States icebreaker from the rescue.

The Russian-flagged Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck on 24 December, triggering a rescue operation co-ordinated by Australian authorities which included French, Chinese, American and German agencies.

China's powerful icebreaker Xue Long raced to respond to the stranded ship, which had been carrying 74 scientists, passengers and crew, but was unable to break through and became trapped itself.

The Australian maritime safety authority (Amsa) confirmed on Wednesday that the Akademik Shokalskiy and the Xue Long "have broken free from the ice in Antarctica and are no longer in need of assistance".

The United States Coast Guard 399-foot long icebreaker Polar Star, which had been en route to the stranded ships, was released from the rescue.

Cracks 

It will now continue on its original mission of resupplying and refuelling the US's McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole stations during the weather window provided by the southern hemisphere summer.

"We are extremely pleased to learn that both the Xue Long and the Akademik Shokalskiy freed themselves from the ice", US Coast Guard commander Vice Admiral Paul F Zukunft said.

"This case underscores the dynamic and harsh operating environment and the necessity for Polar Class Icebreakers in the Antarctic."

Amsa said the captain of the Russian ship Igor Kiselyov told officials on Tuesday that cracks had started to open in the ice around the trapped vessel and a short time later it began to make slow movements.

"Finally the wind changed to the west and as a result a crack appeared in the ice", Kiselyov told Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency. "We went into it and we are now slowly moving north", he said late on Tuesday.

Snow Dragon

The ship quickly managed to clear the area containing the heaviest ice and despite the hard conditions, including thick fog and reduced visibility, began making slow progress north through lighter ice conditions.

The ship, which has 22 crew onboard, took about 12 hours to leave the ice field behind and is now heading to New Zealand, Amsa said.

The captain of the Chinese vessel had also managed to break free of the heaviest ice around the same time "and is now making slow progress through lighter ice conditions" and is in need of no assistance, it said.

The ice surrounding the Xue Long, which has 101 people on board, had been up to four metres thick.

The Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, had been trapped since Friday, one day after dramatically rescuing 52 scientists, passengers and journalists from the Shokalskiy using its helicopter.

The 52 were transferred to the Australian Antarctic programme's supply ship the Aurora Australis, which also raced to the rescue but was unable to break through the ice to reach the Russian vessel.


Read more on:    russia  |  antarctica  |  china  |  maritime
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off all TV Series!

Want to have a chilled day at home? Get 20% off TV series, the perfect excuse to "veg out". Shop now!

Save R700 on the Hisense LED TV Now R2499

Get the Hisense 32” HD ready LED TV for only R2499. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is one of those days where the more positive and optimistic you are the more opportunities you seem to attract....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.