The Akademik Shokalskiy moored in Ushuaia
|Owner:||Russian Federation (Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Vladivostok)|
|Operator:||2011-2012: Aurora Expeditions, Sydney, Australia 2013-2014: Australasian Antarctic Expedition|
|Port of registry:||1982–1992: Vladivostok 1992–2013: Vladivostok|
|Builder:||Oy Laivateollisuus Ab, Turku, Finland|
|Identification:||Call sign: UBNF IMO number: 8010336 MMSI number: 273458210|
|Class and type:||Akademik Shuleykin-class research vessel, now Polar Pioneer-class cruise ship|
|Tonnage:||1,764 GT 529 NT 620 DWT|
|Length:||71.06 m (233 ft 2 in)|
|Beam:||12.82 m (42 ft 1 in)|
|Draught:||4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)|
|Ice class:||RMRS UL|
|Installed power:||Two 6ChRN 36/45 diesel engines (2 × 1,147 kW)|
|Propulsion:||Single shaft; controllable-pitch propeller|
|Speed:||14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)|
MV Akademik Shokalskiy (Russian: Академик Шокальский) is an Akademik Shuleykin-class ice-strengthened ship, built in Finland in 1982 and originally used for oceanographic research. In 1998 she was fully refurbished to serve as a research ship for Arctic and Antarctic work; she is used also for expedition cruising. She is named after the Russian oceanographer Yuly Shokalsky.
For two weeks from 25 December 2013 Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in thick ice in Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, while operating an expedition for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014. The scientists and passengers were evacuated on 2 January.
Use as cruise ship
The ship has two passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers. She is owned by the Russian Federation's Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Vladivostok and was previously chartered to Aurora Expeditions, an Australian expedition cruise line. In 2011, Akademik Shokalskiy sailed cruises along the coast of Russia, including the Northeast Passage, and to East Antarctica.
Icebound in Antarctica
In 2013 Akademik Shokalskiy was chartered by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 to celebrate the centenary of the previous expedition under Douglas Mawson, and to repeat his scientific observations. The expedition had nine scientific goals related to observations, mapping, and measurements of environmental, biological, and marine changes associated with climate change. On 8 December 2013 the ship, with 74 people on board — four journalists, 19 scientists, 26 tourists, the expedition leader's wife and two children, and 22 crew members — sailed from Bluff in New Zealand to Antarctica. Around 0720h AEDT on 25 December 2013, the ship broadcast a distress message after becoming trapped in heavy ice a few miles from the coast of Antarctica, 100 nautical miles (190 km; 120 mi) east of the French base Dumont D’Urville and approximately 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) south of Hobart. Chinese icebreaking research vessel Xuě Lóng, French research vessel L'Astrolabe and Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis were dispatched by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to assist with the rescue operation of Akademik Shokalskiy.
Xuě Lóng, which arrived first, was prevented by thick sea ice from coming closer than about 6 nautical miles (11 km; 6.9 mi) from Akademik Shokalskiy. However it remained in open water nearby as it comes equipped with an on-board helicopter which ultimately was deployed later for the rescue operation. L'Astrolabe also turned back after encountering heavy ice. Aurora Australis, arriving 2 days later, abandoned its attempt about 10 nautical miles (19 km; 12 mi) from the stranded ship, as the ice was too thick to be broken and because of the risk of also becoming trapped in the ice.
On 2 January 2014, the Akademik Shokalskiy 's passengers were evacuated to Aurora Australis by Xuě Lóng 's helicopter, which transferred them between temporary ice helipads alongside each vessel, the boat transfer having been cancelled due to excess ice around Xuě Lóng. Left aboard Akademik Shokalskiy were 22 crew members to attempt to free the boat when winds clear the ice, or when a Russian heavy icebreaker arrives to clear a path. They have enough food and supplies to last through the season, following the offloading of their passengers. The rescued people are expected back at Hobart Tasmania, Australia, in mid-January, after Aurora Australis completes her scheduled supply mission to Casey Station which was interrupted by the rescue mission.
On 4 January 2014, the American heavy icebreaker Polar Star was dispatched from Sydney, Australia to assist Akademik Shokalskiy and Xuě Lóng at the request of Australian authorities. However, on 8 January the Australian Maritime Safety Authority confirmed that both vessels had broken free and were proceeding to open water, and later the same day Polar Star was released to scheduled duties. On 14 January Akademik Shokalskiy returned to the port of Bluff.
Environmental writer Andrew Revkin criticized the scientists on board Akademik Shokalskiy, stating that "important and costly field research in Antarctica has been seriously disrupted" by an "unessential" mission. He also commended an article by Professor Michael Robinson of University of Hartford, which noted that the expedition aimed to use Mawson's observations as a baseline for their own scientific findings "that will illuminate Antarctica's future, not its past. As such, the voyage will prove to be well worth the time and effort."
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