Maybe. The US is sending its icebreaker Polar Star to help the Russian ship and Chinese icebreaker that got stuck in Antarctic ice, according to the Coast Guard.
On Thursday, the Chinese chopper Xueying aboard the icebreaker Xuelong was sent to rescue passengers who had been trapped on the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy for more more than a week in Antarctica.
Not long after all the Russian passengers were safely delivered to Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, China’s Xuelong also found itself blocked behind a one-km-long iceberg.
Yesterday we reported:
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said that the Xuelong is not in distress and did not call for any assistance as of this morning.
The AMSA also stated that masters aboard Akademik Shokalskiy and Xuelong agreed that no further assistance was needed from Aurora Australis and that they could ‘provide mutual support to each other’.
The mutual support seems to have worn thin. Reuters reports that the Polar Star is responding to requests for assistance from Australian authorities as well as the Russian and Chinese governments.
“The U.S. Coast Guard stands ready to respond to Australia’s request,” Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft was quoted as saying in the report. “Our highest priority is safety of life at sea, which is why we are assisting in breaking a navigational path for both of these vessels.”
The Polar Star is 399 feet long with a maximum speed of 18 knots. It can continuously break 6 feet of ice at three knots, and can break 21 feet of ice backing and ramming, the Coast Guard said.
[Image via Wiki Commons]