Earlier this week, an Antarctic explorer ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, became trapped in a field of ice near Antarctica. The ship sent a distress call on Christmas morning to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. The AMSA dispatched three ice breaking ships to help free the Akademik Shokalskiy from the field of ice.
The first of the three rescue ships was scheduled to arrive today, but has been forced to turn back due to the inability to break through extremely thick ice. The rescue ship was reportedly only six and a half nautical miles away from the Akademik Shokalskiy when it encountered the ice. The ship has turned back and the AMSA has declared the rescue mission as “stalled.”
AMSA officials are currently planing alternate methods of rescue for the passengers onboard. One option presented is a helicopter rescue during the current “favorable” weather conditions.
Guests, scientists, and the ship’s crew have been stranded onboard the ship in an ice field since December 25th. Reports from onboard indicate that the ship’s passengers and crew are in good spirits. The AMSA has reported the ship is in no immediate danger.
The third rescue vessel, Aurora Australis, has been forced to turn back into open waters after encountering 10 foot thick ice en route to the Akademik Shokalskiy. The Aurora Australis reportedly came within 10 nautical miles of the stranded expedition ship before a blinding blizzard and extremely thick ice prevented the ship from sailing any closer.
The AMSA is now looking at the possibility to evacuate the Akademik Shokalskiy via helicopter. The first rescue vessel, which also failed to reach the Akademik Shokalskiy, has been standing by in nearby waters with a helicopter ready to evacuate guests, scientists, and crew from the stranded Antarctic ship.
Chris Turney, a scientist sailing onboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, reportedly told Fox News that everybody onboard is in good spirits, but they only have enough food for another 10 days.
The 52 tourists and scientists sailing aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy have been removed from the ship following a successful helicopter rescue mission. The passengers were lifted by a Chinese helicopter a dozen at a time and transferred them to the nearby Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis. The passengers will next be transferred to the island of Tazmania. The crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy will remain onboard and wait until the ship is freed from the ice to sail the ship back to its homeport.