The Argentine icebreaker Almirante Irizar has been dispatched Tuesday morning local time, to the Antarctic sector where the German vessel, Magdalena Oldendorff, has been trapped since June 11th. The 176-member Argentine crew will participate in the rescue operation, which is expected to arrive in fifteen days to release the Russian scientists form their prison of ice.
The operation is considered by the Argentine Navy as “very dangerous and of uncertain results,” as there are no antecedents of similar winter actions in the past. According to specialists, the winter season makes it extremely difficult to succeed in such manoeuvres. Therefore, Argentine commanders are prepared to face a possible getting stuck of the icebreaker, and if this happens, then it will be necessary to carry supplies there to stay in the operation area until October.
The lack of light, only one hour of sunlight at this time of the year, will surely aggravate the scenario. Only after the August 15th, rescuers will have six hours of light to work properly. In addition, low temperatures are expected to reach 50 degrees below zero, which is another obstacle for the success of the operation.
The Almirante Irizar carries two Sea King Helicopters for logistic assistance and may be used to rescue the stuck crew in the event that the icebreaker cannot reach the German vessel. Built with the most advanced technology available in the 1980s, the Argentine icebreaker looks like the best option to released Magdelna Oldendorff’s crew.
The cost of the operation, considerd to be of the sum of one million dollars, will be assumed in full by German authorities. Therefore, after days of negotiations, the Argentine Navy decided to launch the expedition as it will nothing for them.
Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA. RU Argentina
Reuters photo: Argentine navy personnel load supplies onto the Argentine ice breaker ship Almirante Irizar
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969