Friday, January 3rd 2014 - 14:43 UTC

Chinese icebreaker trapped in Antarctica after rescuing passengers from Russian vessel

The Chinese icebreaker that helped rescue 52 passengers from a Russian ship stranded in Antarctic ice found itself stuck in heavy ice, further complicating the 9-day “roller-coaster” rescue operation. “Snow Dragon” (Xue Long) had ferried the passengers from the stranded Russian ship to an Australian icebreaker late on Thursday.

“Snow Dragon” waiting for a change in tidal conditions, with “Aurora Australis” on stand-by

Australian icebreaker “Aurora Australis”

 But it now has concerns about its own ability to move through heavy ice, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said.

“It will attempt to maneuver through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable during the early hours of 4 January 2014,” AMSA said.

”Xue Long notified AMSA at 1pm AEDT this afternoon it has concerns about their ability to move through heavy ice in the area. The Aurora Australis has been placed on standby by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia) to remain in open water in the area as a precautionary measure. The Xue Long has advised RCC Australia that it will attempt to manoeuvre through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable during the early hours of 4 January 2014. There is no immediate danger to personnel on board the Xue Long“.

The Australian icebreaker carrying the rescued passengers, the ”Aurora Australis“, will remain on standby in open water in the area ”as a precautionary measure“, the rescue agency said.

The ”Aurora Australis“ had meant to sail towards an Antarctic base to complete a resupply before carrying the rescued passengers back to Australia.

A helicopter from the ”Snow Dragon“ carried the 52 scientists and tourists in small groups from the ice-bound ”Akademik Shokalskiy“ to the Australian supply ship late on Thursday.

The rescue, delayed due to weather and ice conditions, took around five hours to complete. It had been a ”roller-coaster“ rescue, said Greg Mortimer, one of three expedition leaders on the ”Akademik Shokalskiy“.

”I was immensely relieved for the people under my care,“ Mortimer, quoted by the Age newspaper, said after arriving on the ”Aurora Australis“. He said he was ”very sad“ to leave behind the Russian vessel and its crew.

”The passengers seem very glad to now be with us and they are settling in to their new accommodation,“ Jason Mundy, Australian Antarctic Division Acting Director, who is on board the ”Aurora Australis“, said on Friday morning.

Mundy said there were enough rooms for the passengers, and the ship can ”look after them well for the final part of their journey“.

Passengers, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, will probably arrive in Australia's southern island state of Tasmania around mid-January. The ”Akademik Shokalskiy“ Russian crew will stay on board until the ice breaks up and the ship is freed.

The Russian-owned research ship left New Zealand on November 28 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by Anglo-Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.

It became trapped on December 24, 100 nautical miles east of French Antarctic station Dumont d'Urville and about 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania.

During their time on the ice, passengers amused themselves with movies, classes in knot tying, languages, yoga and photography, and rang in the New Year with dinner, drinks and a song composed about their adventure.

The Chinese icebreaker got within sight of the ”Akademik Shokalskiy” on Saturday, but turned back after failing to break through the ice, more than 3 meters thick in some places. The Aurora Australis and a French flagged ship tried to help, but failed to reach the ship because of strong winds and heavy snow.

11 comments Feed

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1 yankeeboy (#) Jan 03rd, 2014 - 03:22 pm Report abuse
I blame global warming.
2 Anglotino (#) Jan 03rd, 2014 - 03:24 pm Report abuse
A$400,000 and counting!

Courtesy of the Australian taxpayer.
3 Conqueror (#) Jan 03rd, 2014 - 03:37 pm Report abuse
Wouldn't it have been a good idea to ask someone who knew what they were doing? How about the British Antarctic Survey? Just look at that. Dickbrain Russians who ought to know better. And the dickbrain Chinese are so dumb.
4 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jan 03rd, 2014 - 03:58 pm Report abuse

Those 'dickbrain[ed]' Chinese managed to rescue 52 people, many of whom are my fellow citizens, possibly including an acquaintance of mine. I, for one, am grateful especially considering the rather frosty relationship recently prevailing over China and Australia.
5 Mr Ed (#) Jan 03rd, 2014 - 06:30 pm Report abuse
Here's the onboard coverage of the stuck 'scientists', I didn't realise that Germans were onboard :-)
6 Klingon (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 01:05 am Report abuse
@3 Do you have to work being such a douche or does it come naturally?
Maybe they should fly you down there with armchair and keyboard to show them how it's done.
7 Conqueror (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 01:27 pm Report abuse
@4 Do I care about your “friends”? Not really. Setting out to “prove” a contention that costs me money. And has already shown to be unsupportable by people with brains? Did they “have” to go? NO. So stuff 'em. I don't have a lot of time for individuals with big mouths and no significant contributions.
@6 I don't know. Do you have to work at being a fart-arse? Those smelly ones come from passing alongside your slow-moving turds. Of course, all Klingons should be exterminated. Indistinguishable from chinese commies, german nazis and russian commies. But I don't mind going down there. Don't need an armchair or a keyboard. What I would like is an assault rifle, a machine gun, an anti-tank capability, anti-aircraft guns and missiles, cruise missile launchers. anti-ship missiles and the ability to turn argieland into a place of death! According to statistics, the population of argieland is around 41 million. How many war criminals? How many deserve to die? Destroy the criminals. Population down to around 10 million. I know of 3 or 4 Argentines worthy of life. The rest are manure.
8 Klingon (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 01:44 pm Report abuse
@7 So why bother posting here if you have no connection to Argentina?
I guess being a right royal twat you need somewhere to bitch and moan.
At least Argentina is not full of Paki's, Africans and every other sub species that has made it's way to the UK.
9 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 03:01 pm Report abuse

My acquaintance, the legendary Typhoon Tony, is a cook, not a scientist. He has made the trip to Antarctica many times. He also has more character, wit and charisma in his little finger than you have in your entire, desicated, scatalogical being.
10 ChrisR (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 05:14 pm Report abuse
@ 8 Klingon (off the starboard bow, perhaos?)
“At least Argentina is not full of Paki's, Africans and every other sub species that has made its (sic) way to the UK.”

And you are berating Conqueror, you racist argie bastard!

You don’t have any of your own Indians either after the “Glorious Conquest Of The Dessert” by colonialist cowards with guns against people with few firearms and bows and arrows.

Yes, brave people the argies, NOT.
11 lsolde (#) Jan 04th, 2014 - 08:46 pm Report abuse
@5 Mr Ed,
Had to laugh at your post of Hitler.
Well done & very funny, especially the line “don't worry, he'll make a very good clown”!
Ha ha!

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