Akademik Shokalskiy

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M/V Akademik Shokalskiy
The Akademik Shokalskiy moored in Ushuaia
Name: Akademik Shokalskiy
Owner: Russian Federation (Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Vladivostok)[1][2]
Operator: 2011-2012: Aurora Expeditions, Sydney, Australia[3][4]
2013-2014: Australasian Antarctic Expedition[5]
Port of registry: 1982–1992: Vladivostok Flag of the Soviet Union.svg
1992–2013: Vladivostok Flag of Russia.svg
Builder: Oy Laivateollisuus Ab, Turku, Finland[6]
Yard number: 343[1]
Identification: Call sign: UBNF
IMO number: 8010336
MMSI number: 273458210
Status: In service
General characteristics
Class and type: Akademik Shuleykin-class research vessel,[6] now Polar Pioneer-class cruise ship[1]
Tonnage: 1,764 GT
529 NT
620 DWT[1]
Displacement: 2,140 tonnes[1]
Length: 71.06 m (233 ft 2 in)[1]
Beam: 12.82 m (42 ft 1 in)[1]
Draught: 4.50 m (14 ft 9 in)[1]
Ice class: RMRS UL
Installed power: Two 6ChRN 36/45 diesel engines (2 × 1,147 kW)[1]
Propulsion: Single shaft; controllable-pitch propeller[1]
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)[1]
Capacity: 54 passengers[7]
Crew: 30[8]

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.[9] In 1998 she was fully refurbished to serve as a research ship for Arctic and Antarctic work; she is used also for expedition cruising.[7] She is named after the Russian oceanographer Yuly Shokalsky.[10]

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.[11]

Use as cruise ship[edit]

The ship has two passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers.[7][12] 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.[2][7] In 2011, Akademik Shokalskiy sailed cruises along the coast of Russia, including the Northeast Passage, and to East Antarctica.[13][14]

Icebound in Antarctica[edit]

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.[15] The expedition had nine scientific goals related to observations, mapping, and measurements of environmental, biological, and marine changes associated with climate change.[15] 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.[16][17] 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.[16] 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.[16]

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.[18] L'Astrolabe also turned back after encountering heavy ice.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20][21]

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.[22] 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.[11] On 14 January Akademik Shokalskiy returned to the port of Bluff.[23]

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.[24] 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."[25]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Akademik Shokalskiy (810141)". Register of ships. Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  2. ^ a b Sreeja, VN (26 December 2013). "3 Rescue Ships To Reach MV Akademik Shokalskiy". International Business Times (US Ed). Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Aurora Expeditions launches their brand new Russian Coast 2011 voyages". Aurora Expeditions. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Aurora Expeditions reaches Commonwealth Bay". Aurora Expeditions. January 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Chopper rescue for Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy". news.com.au. 31 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Immonen, Pauli; Brooke, Richard; Pajala, Jukka; Lehtonen, Seppo (1987). "Series Research Vessels—Tailored to Customer Requirements". Oceans '87 Proceedings: The Ocean—An International Workplace. Oceans '87. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE. pp. 487–493. doi:10.1109/OCEANS.1987.1160759. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Akademik Shokalskiy". Aurora Expeditions. 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ship Information: Shokalskiy". Polar Cruises. 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Wright, Doug (29 November 2010). "Ex-navy vessel in new role". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Introducing Akademik Shokalskiy" (PDF). The Expeditioner (Aurora Expeditions). August 2010. p. 2. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Antarctic rescue operations complete". Australian Maritime Safety Authority. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Russian Maritime Register of Shipping
  13. ^ Hannafin, Matt (24 November 2010). "Aurora Expeditions Introduces New Russian Arctic Cruises". Frommers.com Cruise Blog. Frommer's. Retrieved 25 April 2011. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Antarctica 2011–12" (PDF). Aurora Expeditions. October 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Spirit of Mawson". Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c "Antarctic Rescue". Australian Maritime Safety Authority. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Pearlman, Jonathan (30 December 2014). "Antarctica ship passengers prepare ice helipad after latest rescue bid fails". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Icebreaker trying to reach trapped ship in Antarctica stalled by ice". CNN. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  19. ^ Aurora Australis abandons attempt to save Akademik Shokalskiy in Antarctica - Sydney Morning Herald (retrieved 2013-12-30)
  20. ^ Phillips, Nicky (2 January 2014). "Akademik Shokalskiy rescue: tears of joy as passengers come in from the cold". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  21. ^ American Morning (CNN TV). 2014-01-02. 
  22. ^ "US icebreaker heads to Antarctic to help stuck ships". Yahoo News. 2014-01-05. 
  23. ^ "Akademik Shokalskiy arrives in Bluff". The Southland Times. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Revkin, Andrew (31 December 2013). "Rescue Efforts for Trapped Antarctic Voyage Disrupt Serious Science". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Robinson, Michael (30 December 2013). "Ship Stuck in Antarctica Raises Questions About Worth of Reenacting Expeditions". National Geographic Daily News. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 

External links[edit]