US icebreaker called to rescue stuck 'Shokalskiy'

6 January 2014 10:52
(QHA) -

A US icebreaker is the latest vessel tasked with attempting to rescue a Russian vessel trapped in heavy Antarctic ice and a Chinese ship which went to its aid, ABC News reports.

The Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck near Commonwealth Bay on Christmas Eve.

During a rescue attempt, the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon (Xue Long) found itself stuck as well.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Chinese and Russian governments have requested the help of the US Coast Guard, which has agreed to make one of its largest ships, the Polar Star, available for the rescue mission.

"The Polar Star is able to continuously break ice up to 1.8 metres while travelling at three knots and can break ice over six metres thick," AMSA spokeswoman Lisa Martin said.

The powerful US icebreaker has been en route to Antarctica since December 3 on a mission to clear a shipping channel for re-supply ships.

Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis is on its way back to Casey Station, after helping rescue the 52 tourists and scientists who were airlifted from the stranded Russian ship on Thursday.