Friday, February 26, 2016

Australian icebreaker runs aground in Antarctica

The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis has run aground in Antarctica during a mission to resupply the Mawson Station after it broke free of its moorings in a blizzard.

Nearly 70 members of the expedition and crew were on board the ship at the time. All are said to be safe and well.

The Australian Antarctic Division has announced that a US aircraft will help in the rescue effort of those stranded.

The ship remains watertight, but poor weather has hampered a full assessment of the damage.

Australian Antarctic Division Director Nick Gales explains the situation.

"We're hopeful that we can backload the passengers on board and continue on with our planned visit to Davis Station and back to Hobart. That's our best case scenario. There's a wide range of scenarios beyond that, that would see us returning expeditioners and some equipment back via other ships or aircraft and then dealing with whatever damage may have been sustained by the hull on the Aurora."

The Aurora Australis departed Hobart in early January to conduct research on the Kerguelen Plateau, an undersea geological formation.

It arrived at Mawson on Saturday.

Ships travelling to and from Antarctica often face risky conditions. The Aurora Australis itself came to the rescue of a Russian ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, and its 52 crew in 2014.
  [CRI -]
*** Akademik Shokalskiy

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