The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Star
is steaming toward Antarctica, to join the rescue effort for the icebound Russian vessel M.V. Akademik Shokalskiy
and the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon
The Polar Star
, a non-nuclear icebreaker, cut short a planned stop in Sydney, Australia this week on its first deployment since a $90 million overhaul. It is expected to reach the two vessels, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, by Thursday.
The Russian ship left New Zealand November 28, trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica but it got stuck in the ice. The Snow Dragon
got stuck trying to help.
Fifty-two passengers who were stranded on board the Shokalskiy
were airlifted by helicopter on January 2 to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis
. The Aurora Australis
turned for home on Saturday after being told it was not needed to help the Snow Dragon
Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard received a call from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the organization coordinating the rescue of the trapped ships, to help break a path through the ice. With engines that can deliver 75,000 horsepower, the Polar Star
has 5.5 times the horsepower of the Chinese rescue ship.