Icebreaker freed from Antarctic ice

A German vessel trapped in Antarctic pack ice for eight months was freed by the relatively warm weather of the Austral summer in early December. It had been trapped at the edge of an ice shelf in Muskegbukta Bay since April 2002 after it had attempted to resupply several research stations and bring 79 scientists back to Cape Town, South Africa.

The 20,000-ton icebreaker Magdalena Oldendorf, chartered by the Russian outfit AARI (Arctic & Antarctic Research Institute), was the subject of a multi-national rescue effort, which failed to free the ship but succeeded in removing all but a skeleton crew of 17, which included an Argentinean navy doctor who was transferred to the vessel to assist in keeping the crew healthy during the winter. The effort also resupplied the ship for its protracted stay in the grip of the ice.

Magdalena Oldendorf arrived in Cape Town in mid-December. The newly freed vessel was slated to depart for another Antarctic trip, this time for an Indian company, on Jan. 8.

By Ocean Navigator