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Rescuing the Vavilov

Updated on April 03, 2011

Vavilov

Pack Ice

Damage to M/V Polar Star

Rescuing the Vavilov

On my trip, not only did I get to learn how our ice-breaker, the M/V Polar Star, works in pack ice, I got to see it in action.

On December 26, 2004, I was woken at 5am by the announcement from Geoff, our expedition leader. The announcement was that we were traveling in pack ice towards a ship that was trapped in the ice. The ship, the Vavilov, had become trapped when the strong winds pushed the pack ice around the ship. Our ship was the only ice-breaker in the area capable of reaching it.

In another two hours, we had reached the ship. From the back of the ship, I watched the crew of the Vavilov throw lines to our ship's crew. The crew connected the ships and manuevered the bow of the Vavilov into the notch in the stern of the M/V Polar Star. This allowed the Vavilov to actually use its power to push us forward a little faster.

After 10 hours of leading the Vavilov through the pack ice with the lines breaking once and the bow of the Vavilov damaging our stern railing, we were again in open waters and were on our separate ways. A few days later, we met again at the dock in Ushuaia, where we had first seen the Vavilov when boarding the M/V Polar Star on December 20, 2004.

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