The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) confirmed that rescue operations for all 52 passengers on board the Russian research ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy that was stranded in Antarctic ice was completed.
Russian research ship sent distress call
According to AMSA the search and rescue operation for the MV Akademik Shokalskiy started on Christmas when Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in the United Kingdom coordinated the distress message it received from the Russian ship to AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Center (RCC).
Chinese helicopter used in rescue operations
On January 2, the Russian research ship advised that the weather conditions in Antarctica improved, which allowed the RCC to start its rescue operations. Rescuers used the Chinese helicopter on board a Chinese-flagged Xue Long was used to transfer the 52 passengers, their luggage, and equipment to the Australian icebreaker, Aurora Australis. The 22 crewmen of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy remained on the ship and will wait for the ice to break up
The Aurora Australis will take the rescued passengers in 1,700 miles north of Tasmania, an island state of Australia. The journey is estimated to take around two weeks. Chris Turney, the leader of the expedition, said, “I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home.”
Xue Long advised AMSA that it is experiencing difficulty moving through heavy ice in the Antarctic on Friday, January 3. The Aurora Australis was placed on standby and advised to remain in open water in the area as a precautionary measure.