U.S. Coast Guard to the Rescue

This was probably inevitable: the climateers who tried to document global warming in Antarctica, only to have their vessel hopelessly stuck in a vast ice pack, have been ignominiously airlifted back home, but their ship, along with a Chinese vessel that tried to rescue them, are ice-bound and unable to free themselves. So the Australian and Chinese governments have asked the United States Coast Guard for help:

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The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star is responding to a Jan. 3rd request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to assist the Russian-Flagged Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese-Flagged Xue Long that are reportedly ice-bound in the Antarctic. The Russian and Chinese Governments have also requested assistance from the United States. …

The Polar Star will cut short its planned stop in Sydney to support the AMSA’s request for assistance. …

The Polar Star left its homeport of Seattle in early December on one of its primary missions, Operation Deep Freeze. The ship’s mission is to break a channel through the sea ice of McMurdo Sound to resupply and refuel the U.S. Antarctic Program’s (USAP) McMurdo Station on Ross Island.

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The just-refurbished Polar Star is now the “U.S. Coast Guard’s only active heavy polar ice breaker.” It’s a good thing we have at least one!

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