The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, has gotten to within around 6-7 miles of the expedition cruise ship, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, before it too was stopped by thick ice off the coast of Antarctica, south of Tasmania. Three icebreakers were dispatched to rescue the stricken cruise ship. Unfortunately, the Chinese Snow Dragon is the largest and most powerful of the three and it is stuck in the ice.
A second icebreaker, the French icebreaking research vessel, L’Astrolabe, is close by, but as it is a considerably smaller ship with less horsepower, may not be able to provide much assistance to the Snow Dragon. The third icebreaker, the Australian Aurora Australis, is also on its way to the trapped ships. Unfortunately, while she is more powerful than L’Astrolabe, Aurora Australis is still less than half the displacement and three quarters the horsepower of the Snow Dragon.
The best answer may be a wind shift. “Right now we are waiting for winds to blow ice away so we can move closer,” Capt. Wang Jiangzhong of the Snow Dragon told CNN. “The current ice condition is exceeding our capabilities to break through further.“