Antarctic icebreaker ships remain stranded as wind falters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 2:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 10:09am

The Chinese Antarctic icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, remains trapped by ice after favourable winds failed to arrive.

Xu Ting, deputy leader of the exploration team onboard the ship, said no action could be taken yesterday.

"[The weather] is still dominated by southeastern winds, and the ice nearby [the ship] is still very dense," he told China National Radio. The crew had expected a westerly wind to arrive today, but the wind now does not appear strong enough.

Xu said morale onboard remained good as the ship was not in any immediate danger.

"As soon as there is a chance we will break free," he said.

The Xue Long became stranded on Friday when it went to the assistance of the Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, which was trapped in ice on Christmas Eve. A helicopter from the Xue Long transported 52 scientists, journalists and tourists to the Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis, which is returning to its home port of Hobart, Tasmania.

The US Coastguard icebreaker Polar Star, which was on its way to resupply the US Antarctic research station at McMurdo Sound, cut short a visit to Sydney on Saturday to assist the two stranded vessels and is expected to arrive early next week.

Watch: Chinese helicopter rescues Russian ship passengers in Antartica