SEATTLE — The U.S. Coast Guard is sending the Seattle-based Polar Star cutter to help two ships that are trapped in Antarctic ice.
One of them is the Russian research ship from which 52 passengers were rescued by helicopter this week. The other is the Chinese ship that provided the helicopter.
The Polar Star, is ending its planned stop in Sydney, Australia, to help the Russian and Chinese vessels. It’s the Coast Guard’s only active heavy polar ice breaker.
The Chinese ship is stuck several miles from the Russian icebreaker from which the passengers were rescued. The Russian ship has been stuck there since Christmas Eve.
A reporter for China’s official news agency who’s aboard the Chinese ship says an iceberg appeared overnight and blocked its path.
The Polar Star left Seattle in early December on one of its primary missions to break a channel through the sea ice of McMurdo Sound to resupply and refuel a research program on McMurdo Station on Ross Island.