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.
Coast Guard Pacific Area Command Center received the request Thursday evening from AMSA after they evaluated the situation and determined there is sufficient concern that the vessels may not be able to free themselves from the ice. AMSA has been coordinating rescue operations since the Akademik Shokalskiy became beset with ice on Dec. 24. The Polar Star will cut short its planned stop in Sydney to support the AMSA’s request for assistance.
“The U.S. Coast Guard stands ready to respond to Australia’s request,” said Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area. “Our highest priority is safety of life at sea, which is why we are assisting in breaking a navigational path for both of these vessels. We are pleased to learn the passengers of the Akademik Shokalskiy have been transported safely off the vessel. We are always ready and duty bound to render assistance in one of the most remote and harsh environments on the face of the globe.”
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