SYDNEY, January 08, 7:52 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s research vessel Akademik Shokalsky has finally escaped from ice captivity and is moving confidently towards clean waters, captain Igor Kiselyov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
“We will probably get to ice-free waters in five hours, but the ice around us already posed no danger,” Kiselyov said. “The ice about 50 centimetres thick, sometimes we encounter ice floes. But even if the ice is moved towards us by the wind, we will all the same successfully pass through it.”
“The ship is in proper operating condition, there are no problems,” the captain of Akademik Shokalsky continued. “We are currently moving at a speed of 8.5 knots, heading for New Zealand’s port of Bluff, which we should reach on January 14.”
Kiselyov said that the Chinese ship Xue Long had also successfully got out from ice captivity, “sailed to the north and is moving independently to ice-free water.”
On 2 January 2014, the Akademik Shokalsky passengers were evacuated to Aurora Australis by Xue Long’s helicopter, which transferred them between temporary ice helipads alongside each vessel, the boat transfer having been cancelled due to excess ice around Xue Long. Left aboard Akademik Shokalsky were 22 crewmembers to attempt to free the boat when winds clear the ice, or when a Russian heavy icebreaker arrives to clear a path. They have enough food and supplies to last through the season, following the offloading of their passengers. The rescued people are expected back at Hobart Tasmania, Australia, in mid-January, after Aurora Australis completes her scheduled supply mission to Casey Station which was interrupted by the rescue mission.
On 4 January 2014, the American heavy icebreaker Polar Star was dispatched from Sydney, Australia to assist Akademik Shokalsky and Xue Long at the request of Australian authorities.