Posts Tagged ‘Uller’

Australian icebreaker abandons first attempt to reach the global warming pilgrims

December 30, 2013

This was a pilgrimage to the gods of global warming and led by a high priest of the Order of the Melting Poles. But they forgot to placate Uller and seem to have angered the ice-gods.

Ull, sometimes called Uller, ….  was the god of ice and snow, as well as hunters and archery. His following seems to have been overshadowed only by Thor and Odin, as all he had to offer his followers was blizzards and cold. Still, the Norse lived in a subarctic climate, so they tried to placate him instead of follow him. 

The Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis has abandoned its first attempt to reach the tourists on the Akademik Shokalskiy. The 2m+ ice was too thick and threatened to close in behind them and they had to turn back towards open water. The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long was also retreating to open water.

A French icebreaker abandoned its rescue mission on Saturday when it became clear that the ship wouldn’t get any closer than the Chinese boat had. The two remaining icebreakers with one helicopter between them have now to devise a strategy to rescue these irresponsible tourists/pilgrims/idiots led by Chris Turney. The cost according to the SMH is likey to be in the “multi-millions” and according to the Law of the Sea ought to be charged to the operators of this “pleasure” cruise.


But Turney needs to bear his share. As do the BBC, the Guardian and other media tourists. There is a case to be made for a certain amount of pillorying – maybe by reintroducing the stocks just for Chris Turney. The cover-story of this being a privately funded “scientific expedition” is a travesty. Douglas Mawson must be spinning in his grave at these tourists invoking his name and comparing their luxury cruise with his battles for survival.

From the SMH:

  • The Aurora Australis has abandoned its first attempt to cut through the ice surrounding the stranded Akademik Shokalskiy in Antarctica after moving just two nautical miles. 
  • About 6am, the Aurora’s captain, Murray Doyle, began to manoeuvre the icebreaker through thick wedges of consolidated sea ice. But by 9am [midday Sydney time], the master made the call to turn the ship around and move back into open water. “The ice became too thick for us to penetrate. Some of the floes are up to two metres of ice with a metre of snow on top and very compact. There was just nowhere for us to go.” 
  • Captain Doyle also feared that the 55-kilometre south-easterly wind running up the ship’s stern would blow ice in and around the back of the vessel. “It was pushing those same types of floes in behind us,” he said. “If we got into that compact stuff it would have sealed us in, we would have lost our manoeuvreability and we wouldn’t have been much use to anybody. 
  • A low-hanging fog also hampered rescue efforts. “We had no visibility so we couldn’t really see if there was a way through.” 
  • Captain Doyle had informed the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra of the situation. 
  • The passengers on the stranded Shokalskiy would likely be evacuated to the Aurora or Chinese icebreaker the Xue Long, which was also in the area. 
  • “It’s now up to us three ships [the Shokalskiy, the Aurora and the Xue Long] to agree on a [rescue] strategy,” Captain Doyle said. While the Xue Long had a helicopter onboard, it was too heavy for the Aurora’s helideck. “We also can’t use the helicopter at the moment because there is no visibility,” he said. “The helicopter wouldn’t be able to differentiate the horizon from the ice.” 
  • The captain planned to wait until the weather cleared before deciding whether to cut another path through the ice. The icebreak was designed to cut through ice floes of about 1.35 metres, not the thick ice built up in Watt Bay, some of which has grown over several years. “It wasn’t all multi-year ice, there was some first-year ice, which can be thick, especially if it’s old first-year ice,” he said. 
  • The Xue Long, which has been waiting near the Mertz Glacier since Boxing Day, was also making its way back to open water. “They’re trying to make it back into open water so they’re not trapped as well,” Captain Doyle said.

That this is no scientific expedition becomes obvious  from the Guardian report that Janet Rice, the Green party senator-elect for Victoria, Australia, who has been on board the ship since it left New Zealand, said: “I understand why people might be concerned, but the feeling today on board the ship is like a summer holiday when the weather is bad, when you’re stuck inside reading books and playing Scrabble. We’ve been assured that we’re in no danger and it’s just a matter of waiting.”

I wonder if the Green party is covering her costs?

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