THE long-awaited rescue of passengers from a ship trapped in Antarctic ice has been carried out successfully – almost 110 years to the day that a ship captained by a Hull skipper was freeing Scott’s Discovery.
A helicopter carried scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker.
The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.
The Shokalski was trapped by thick sheets of ice driven by strong winds on Christmas Eve, about 1,500 nautical miles south of the Tasmnian capital Hobart.
The vessel was being used by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition to follow the route that explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago.
The crew will stay onboard their icebound vessel, which has weeks’ worth of supplies on board, until the ice that has paralysed it breaks up.
Maritime historian Dr Robb Robinson said by coincidence this weekend 110 years ago the SS Morning, commanded by Hull captain William Colbeck, was in the process of freeing Scott’s Discovery which had been stuck in the ice for two years in McMurdo Sound.
The Morning had been unable to free the Discovery in the winter of 1902-1903, but returned the following year.
With what would be regarded today as basic equipment – the men wore seamen’s jerseys and thick jackets – they trekked over the ice to locate the marooned ship before blasting it free with explosives. Of the crew 16 were from Hull.
On their return they were hailed as heroes and were met at Paragon Station in Hull by cheering crowds. Many of the Hull crew members went on to sail on the subsequent Antarctic voyages of Scott and Shackleton.
Mr Robinson said: “For all our modern technology and ingenuity contending with the elements in polar regions remains extremely difficult.”