US Joins in Antarctic Ship Rescue Effort
Coast Guard cutter to aid Russian, Chinese ships
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 4, 2014 4:15 PM CST
Passengers from the trapped Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, seen at right, prepare to board the Chinese helicopter Xueying 12 in the Antarctic Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.   (AP Photo/Xinhua, Zhang Jiansong)
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(Newser) – First a Russian ship got trapped in Antarctic ice; then a Chinese ship got stuck trying to rescue it. Finally, passengers on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy were rescued late this week via helicopter while crew members remained. The saga continues amid concerns about the Chinese vessel: Now the US Coast Guard is getting involved, following requests from Australia, China, and Russia, CNN reports. The cutter Polar Star, which was already en route to the area, is traveling to the aid of both ships.

"Our highest priority is safety of life at sea, which is why we are assisting in breaking a navigational path for both of these vessels," says a Coast Guard commander, per the AP. "We are always ready and duty-bound to render assistance in one of the most remote and harsh environments on the face of the globe." As if the story wasn't confusing enough already, the Australian icebreaker that's carrying the rescued passengers is now continuing its journey home; Australian officials had told it to wait in case the Chinese ship needed help.