Posts Tagged ‘Australian Maritime Safety Authority’

Spirit of Mawson is dead as Turney and his Antarctic tourists prepare to abandon ship

December 31, 2013

UPDATE! The BBC reports that the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long may itself be stuck in the ice!!


The Spirit of Mawson dies as Antarctic pilgrims/tourists and their great leader – but not the crew – are to be rescued by helicopter

The spirit of Sir Douglas Mawson is well and truly dead.  They have “fresh” supplies for at least two weeks and are well enough stocked to last through the entire summer. But the global warming pilgrims, the tourists, other diverse hangers-on and their tour guide have chickened out as they wait to be removed from the Akademik Shokalskiy by helicopter.

But not the crew.

If Turney is the leader shouldn’t he be the last one to leave the ice?

Chris Turney, the tour guide, describes himself as “Scientist, Explorer and Writer”. Why not “Hero”?

“Idiot” and “Charlatan” also come to mind. 

The Spirit of Mawson: 2013-2014 marks the centenary of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by the great scientist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. In a celebration of this remarkable endeavour, the new Australasian Antarctic Expedition (or AAE for short) will follow the route of its namesake, melding science and adventure, to discover and communicate the changes that have taken place in this remote environment over the last hundred years.

Led by Professor Chris Turney and Dr Chris Fogwill, from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, the 2013-2014 expedition will attempt to revisit the site of the original AAE huts at Cape Denison, Antarctica, the enigmatically named ‘Home of the Blizzard’.

But the Spirit of Mawson is not much in evidence here as Turney and his holiday makers plan to scuttle off the trapped ship leaving all the crew behind.

SMHOn Tuesday morning, Chris Turney, who is leading the expedition, said the 52 passengers on board the Akademik Shokalskiy would be flown out by helicopter after it stopped raining. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said all 22 crew members are expected to remain on board.

Authorities decided to resort to the helicopter evacuation after the Aurora Australis rescue ice-breaker was forced to retreat in the face of freezing 30 knot winds and snow showers 10 nautical miles from the Shokalskiy. Thick ice had earlier prevented the Chinese ice-breaker Xue Long and a French ice-breaker from reaching the stranded crew.

“Aurora can’t make it through. Looks like we’re going to be helicoptered out. Just need a clear weather window. Raining!,” Professor Turney posted just before noon (AEDT) on Tuesday.

Summer in the Antarctic and expedition is trapped in thick ice

December 25, 2013

“Global sea ice area is second highest on record for the date after 1988, and closing in the #1 spot. Antarctic ice is melting very slowly this summer, due to record cold Antarctic temperatures”.Real Science, 21st December 2013

Certainly no irony would have been intended but irony there undoubtedly is when even The Guardian is forced to report that:

Antarctic expedition stranded as ship gets stuck in ice

Scientists and explorers on Spirit of Mawson voyage will spend Christmas and Boxing Day awaiting rescue. Explorers are stranded near Antarctica after their ship became wedged in by thick sheets of sea ice.

The Spirit of Mawson voyage, which includes scientists, explorers, tourists and the Guardian journalists Alok Jha and Laurence Topham, is trapped in Antarctic ice floes and awaiting rescue.

But with the nearest ship with ice-breaking abilities at least two days away, the crew will spend Christmas and Boxing Day stuck about 1500 nautical miles south of Hobart.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a distress call on Christmas morning, notifying the rescue co-ordination centre that the ship was trapped and would need help. …

Akademik Shokalskiy surrounded by ice

A view of the ice from the boat. Photograph: Laurence Topham

The voyage is part of a research expedition to commemorate the centenary of Douglas Mawson’s exploration.

The Australasian Antarctic Expedition leader, Chris Turney, wrote on Twitter: “Heavy ice. Beautiful; light wind. Only -1degC. All well. Merry Xmas everyone from AAE.”

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