U.S. icebreaker released from search-and-rescue request for icebound ships

The 399′ U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star received a request in early January from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to assist the Russian-flagged Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese-flagged Xue Long that were icebound in the Antarctic. AMSA was concerned that the vessels would not be able to free themselves from the ice. The Akademik Shokalskiy became beset with ice on Dec. 24. On Jan. 7, AMSA released the Polar Star from search-and-rescue duties after the two ships were able break through the heavy ice after a favorable change in wind conditions. At this point assistance from the Polar Star, the Coast Guard’s only active heavy polar icebreaker, was no longer needed and the vessel continued on its original mission to McMurdo Sound. The Polar Star received the original request from AMSA on Jan. 3 and headed to the stranded ships the next day. Five ships were involved in the multilateral cooperative rescue effort. “This was a great example of the multilateral cooperative nature of Antarctic operations,” said AMSA’s acting CEO Mick Kinley.


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