US icebreaker Polar Star to help vessels trapped in Antarctica

Sydney, Jan 5: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has requested the US Coast Guard’s icebreaker Polar Star to assist the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy and the Chinese vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon) which are stuck by ice in Antarctica, Xinhua reported.

AMSA has identified the Polar Star as a vessel capable of assisting the trapped vessels.

The US Coast Guard accepted this request Saturday and will make Polar Star available for the rescue operation, AMSA said in the latest statement.

The Polar Star will leave Sydney Sunday after taking on supplies prior to its voyage to Antarctica.

It is anticipated it will take about seven days for the Polar Star to reach the scene, depending on weather and ice conditions.

The Polar Star has been en route to Antarctica since the end of last year, weeks before the MV Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in Commonwealth Bay.

The intended mission of the Polar Star is to clear a navigable shipping channel in McMurdo Sound to the National Science Foundation’s Scientific Research Station.

Resupply ships would use the channel to bring food, fuel and other goods to the station. The Polar Star will go on to undertake its mission once the search and rescue operation is completed, AMSA said.

IANS