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U.S. Icebreaker Begins Towing Stricken Ship Out of Antarctic Ice

 / Updated 
Image: Members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard cutter, Polar Star, launch a remote operated vehicle into the water to inspect the disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, beset by ice near Cape Burks
Members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard cutter Polar Star are seen in this handout photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard as they launch a remote operated vehicle into the water to inspect the disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, beset by ice near Cape Burks, Antarctica, Feb. 14.HANDOUT / Reuters

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The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker sent on a rescue mission to help an Australian fishing vessel trapped in the ice in Antarctica on Saturday successfully freed the ship and is towing it to open water, authorities said.

The Polar Star, the nation’s only heavy icebreaker capable of operating in the thick ice of the Antarctic, was called to help the ice-bound Antarctic Chieftain on Tuesday, and it reached the ship Friday, the Coast Guard said.

The 207-foot Antarctic Chieftain with 26 people aboard had become stuck in the ice, suffered damage to three of its four propeller blades and lost its ability to maneuver. The vessel became trapped in the ice 900 miles northeast of McMurdo Sound.

The two vessels are surrounded by ice between 12 to 15 feet thick, covered by two feet of snow, as they make their way to open water, about 60 miles north of where the Antarctic Chieftain became stuck, the Coast Guard and the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand said.

Image: Members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard cutter, Polar Star, launch a remote operated vehicle into the water to inspect the disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, beset by ice near Cape Burks
Members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard cutter Polar Star are seen in this handout photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard as they launch a remote operated vehicle into the water to inspect the disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, beset by ice near Cape Burks, Antarctica, Feb. 14.HANDOUT / Reuters

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