At the Helm
The crew of the M.V. Akademik Shokalskiy negotiate the ice pack on December 15, about a week before the Russian research vessel became trapped in ice off the coast of East Antarctica.
On Christmas Eve, the crew realized that there was no way out of the thick pack ice that had surrounded the ship, driven by strong winds. The 74 passengers, part of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, embarked from New Zealand on December 9. (Related: "Who's on That Russian Ship Stuck on Antarctic Ice? And Why?")
Icebreakers have attempted to free the ship, to no avail. The next step will be evacuating the stranded people by helicopter, according to Australian authorities—although high winds and snow make that impossible at the moment.
The scientists, media, and students aboard the ship were returning from a month-long scientific expedition that revisited sites in East Antarctica first seen by Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson's team a hundred years ago. (See also: "Ship Stuck in Antarctica Raises Questions About Worth of Reenacting Expeditions.")
However, Andrew Peacock, a photographer aboard the ship, said via email to National Geographic that "the mood is getting more frustrated by the day."
He added, "There are so many variables—every briefing is different—and people are getting a little worried now while the weather stays poor. Lack of control and missing loved ones are starting to put some emotion into our conversations!"