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U.S. Coast Guard to Send Ship to Help Vessels Stuck in Antarctic Ice

Andrew Peacock/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Coast Guard is sending a ship to assist with the extraction of a pair of ships that have been stuck in the Antarctic ice.

The Akademik Shokalskiy, a Russian research vessel, got stuck in the ice on Christmas Eve. The ship was carrying 74 scientists, tourists and crew. The first icebreaking ship to arrive -- the Chinese Xue Long -- reported on Friday night that it could not break through the ice and was also stuck.

A second ice breaking ship, the French Astrolabe, was unable to get close enough to the Akademik Shokalskiy to assist, and when the third and highest-rated of the three ice-breakers arrived, weather complicated the rescue efforts.

Fifty-two of those aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy were transported by helicopter to the third ship, the Aurora Australis. The crew will remain with the vessel.

The U.S. ship, the Polar Star, will shorten a planned stop in Sydney, Australia and travel to the site where the two ships remain stuck, according to a statement from the Coast Guard. The Polar Star is the U.S. Coast Guard's only active heavy polar ice breaker. The U.S. ship could take a week or so to arrive at the site.

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