Akademik Shokalskiy. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
Excitement was yesterday building among scientists and
crew aboard MV Akademik Shokalskiy
as the first of three
icebreakers was expected to arrive overnight to help free it
from Antarctic pack ice.
Expedition leader Chris Turney, a professor of climate change
at the University of New South Wales, tweeted from the ship
yesterday afternoon: ''Good news. Sounds like the Chinese
icebreaker Snow Dragon is just 25 miles away. Hope to
see it in a couple of hours!''
He later tweeted: ''Great news. Icebreaker Snow Dragon
on horizon with penguins! Everyone very happy!''
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is
co-ordinating the search and rescue operation, at 8.30pm said
the first of three vessels sent to help was about 15 nautical
miles from the stuck ship and was progressing at slow speed.
The second vessel was about 20 nautical miles away, the AMSA
It was unclear how long it would take the icebreakers to
punch through the thick ice in the area and reach Akademik
Prof Turney noted the ship had been stationary for so long
that Adelie penguins were coming up to it on the ice to check
out what was going on.
While some people on board expressed deep frustration at
being trapped in the pack ice, it was business as usual for
Omakau-raised chef Nicole Kerr.
Her father Pete told the Otago Daily Times yesterday
she had sent an email to let family know she was in good
health and was lucky to have a job on board the vessel which
kept boredom at bay.
''She's keeping herself occupied by cooking to keep the staff
happy while they wait for the rescuers.
''She's probably the busiest person on the boat,'' he said.
Miss Kerr is one of six New Zealanders and about 70
scientists and crew on MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which
has spent the past three days trapped in thick ice about 100
nautical miles east of the French station Dumont DUrville,
about 3000km southwest of Bluff.
The 30-year-old, 71m-long, vessel left Bluff on December 8 on
an Australasian Antarctic Expedition to reach Mawson's Hut in
Cape Denison in the Antarctic, to mark the 100-year
anniversary of a similar trip by Australian explorer Sir
It was scheduled to return early in the New Year, but a
distress signal was sent on Christmas Day after it became