Polar Star left Sydney, Australia, Saturday morning Pacific Time. It is expected to be on the scene, at about 1,500 miles south of Tasmania, about January 12. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the Russian and Chinese governments were the ones who asked for help.“We are always ready and duty bound to render assistance in one of the most remote and harsh environment on the face of the globe” said the Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft. Polar Star is a much stronger icebreaker than either of the two stuck ships. It is also more maneuverable, having three propellers and both diesel and gas turbine engines.
Actually, there are 101 crew members on the Xue Lang (Snow Dragon) vessel and another 22 on the Russian Akademik Shokalskiy ship. They have plenty of supplies but there is a strong danger that the trapped ships, moving with the ice, get pushed onto shore or onto a rock. Polar Star is guided by satellite imagery to find the best routes through the ice.