A U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker left Australia for Antarctica on Sunday to rescue more than 120 crew members aboard two icebreakers trapped in pack ice near the frozen continent’s eastern edge, officials said. The 122-meter cutter, the Polar Star, is responding to a Jan. 3 request from Australia, Russia and China to assist the Russian and Chinese ships.
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.
Just days after the Chinese rover Jade Rabbit settled down on the moon, China is setting out to bolster its presence in another remote place: Antarctica. Chinese state media said on Thursday that construction workers are en route to the future site of China’s fourth Antarctic research station, after a pit stop at one of its other bases.
A Chinese helicopter reached on Thursday a Russian ship stranded in Antarctica for nine days to pick up 52 passengers who spent Christmas and the New Year trapped in ice, the expedition leader has said.
A new icebreaker is scheduled to join Xuelong, China’s only Antarctic research vessel, in 2014, highlighting Beijing’s ambition for further exploration and scientific study in polar regions.