The McMurdo station will host a US-Russian friendship soiree tomorrow, January 30. The Krasin ice-breaker is operated by the Far Eastern shipping company.
Previously, Brian Stone, who heads the Antarctic program of the US national science foundation, sent a telegram to the Krasin ice-breaker’s captain Victor Kovalchuk.
Stone thanked Kovalchuk and the ice-breaker crew on behalf of the foundation for guiding the Paul Buck tanker to the McMurdo pier through thick ice. Among other things, his telegram notes that the Krasin crew’s work is even more admirable because the US side understands perfectly well it took the crew a lot of effort to travel the long and difficult route from Vladivostok to McMurdo and to get down to work mmediately. Nonetheless, the Krasin ice-breaker completed the first stage of this extremely difficult expedition with flying colors. Moreover, this task was accomplished in no time at all, the telegram goes on to say.
Meanwhile the Paul Buck tanker’s 19,000-ton diesel-fuel load will soon be pumped ashore completely at the McMurdo pier.
The Krasin ice-breaker would be expected to bring in another US ship laden with 10,000 tons of food, medications and scientific equipment some time later.
The ice-breaker is conducting these operations on orders from the Russian Government, which received a request from US authorities.
Had the Krasin ice-breaker failed to bring in ships to the McMurdo pier, then the US side would have no alternative but to evacuate the entire station personnel (nearly 1,000 people), Kazakova noted. In her words, this would have torpedoed the long-term program of Antarctic research and observations.
According to Yevgeny Ambrosov, general director of the Far Eastern shipping company, the Government of the United States did not ask Russia for help by sheer coincidence. Russia boasts the world’s largest ice-breaker fleet. Meanwhile their crews have spent more time in ice-bound regions of the world than anybody else.
The Far Eastern shipping company’s ice-breakers have taken part in numerous rescue operations. Vladivostok sailors have conducted about 20 high-risk operations over the last 50 years.
The Krasin ice-breaker slipped out of Vladivostok December 21, shaping course for the Antarctic. The ship is to cast anchor at her home port in March 2005. However, the ice-breaker will set sail for the Pacific Ocean’s high latitudes after a short stop-over, guiding ships to Magadan and other Arctic ports in the Russian Far East.