US Coast Guard Reaches Fishing Ship Trapped in Ice Since Tuesday
The 207-foot fishing vessel has been stuck in the ice since Tuesday.
— -- The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter was working today to free an Australian fishing vessel with 26 people on board that was stuck in the ice in Antarctica.
The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star reached the 207-foot fishing vessel, which was trapped 900 miles northeast of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, on Friday, after traveling 430 miles.
"The ice conditions were found to be much more formidable than expected," said Capt. Matthew Walker, the commanding officer of the Polar Star. "We are on scene and progressing well with the rescue."
The Australian-flagged fishing vessel, the Antartic Chieftan, got stuck in the ice Tuesday evening, according to a statement from the Coast Guad.
The Polar Star is the nation's only heavy icebreaker capable of operating in the thick Antarctic ice. The 339-foot vessel is one of the Coast Guard's largest ships and one of the world's most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers.
Three out of four of the Antarctic Chieftain's propeller blades were damaged by the ice, so once the ice is cut through, the Coast Guard will send a remotely-operated vehicle in the water to look more closely and assess the damage.
If necessary, the Polar Star will tow the fishing vessel through the ice.
The plan is that once the Antartic Chieftan is freed from the ice, the New Zealand-flagged Janas will either escort or tow the ship to the nearest safe harbor, the Coast Guard said. The Janas is currently 630 miles away.