VLADIVOSTOK, December 26, 7:51 /ITAR-TASS/. Christmas has been celebrated aboard the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalsky, which is trapped in Antarctic ice.
Aboard the ship are 22 crewmembers and 52 passengers, including scientists from an Australian Antarctic expedition. "Everything is all right aboard the vessel, except for the fact that it cannot get out of the 10-point ice," the director of the Far Eastern regional scientific research hydro-meteorological institute, Yuri Volkov, told Itar-Tass. He received the information from the captain on Thursday (Moscow time). To note that the situation did not cause concern, Volkov said the holiday of Christmas was celebrated aboard. Ten-point ice means up to one metre high ice without holes.
An Australian icebreaker and a Chinese research icebreaking vessel are on the way to help the trapped Russian ship. Both are expected to approach the Akademik Shokalsky in the evening on December 27. After the ship is led to clear water, it will continue its scientific expedition near the Antarctica. There is plenty of fuel and drinking water aboard, Volkov said.
The icebreaker Aurora is sent from Australia specially to help the Akademik. The Chinese ship is carrying equipment for the Chinese Antarctic polar expedition, but has also responded to the request for help.
On December 24, the Akademik Shokalsky was caught in ice within the zone of control of the Australian sea rescue coordination centre. The ship is about 180 km east of the French Antarctic station of Dumont D' Urville.
Referring to the captain’s report, Volkov said the air temperature was one degree below zero in the area and the speed of the east wind was 15 m/sec. The ship was drifting northwest.
The Akademik Shokalsky was built in Finland in 1982. The 2,140-tonne ship is 71 m long, and its speed is 14 knots. Its tanks hold 320 tonnes of oil, and the water tanks have a capacity of 250 tonnes. The research ship belongs to the fleet of the hydro-meteorological institute.