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US Icebreaker Polar Star Reaches Boat Trapped in Ice Near Antarctica

Image: Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star navigates to beset fishing vessel
In this image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard the Austrailian fishing vessel the Antarctic Chieftain is seen from the the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star as the cutter begins breaking up the ice around the vessel Friday Feb. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Lt. j.g. Gina Caylor)AP

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Rescuers on Friday reached an Australian fishing boat trapped in the ice near Antarctica with 26 people aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Coast Guard dispatched the icebreaker Polar Star on Tuesday to rescue the 207-foot Antarctic Chieftan, after the vessel damaged three of its four propeller blades and lost the ability to move in the thick ice, the Coast Guard said.

Polar Star traveled more than 430 miles, encountering snowy conditions and large icebergs before reaching the vessel stuck about 900 miles northeast of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.

“It is with a great sense of pride that we are able to assist Antarctic Chieftain," Polar Star Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Walker said in a statement. "Search and rescue has always been our core mission and Polar Star is demonstrating the Coast Guard’s commitment to saving lives in all the world’s oceans.”

The Polar Star will attempt to free the fishing boat from the ice. The New Zealand fishing boat Janas will then escort or tow the vessel to the nearest safe harbor, the Coast Guard said.

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