(11.15 a.m. EST) -- A U.K.-based ice patrol vessel has rescued Hurtigruten's Fram after it became trapped in Antarctic ice.
HMS Protector broke through four-meter-thick ice to free the Scandinavian cruise ship when it became surrounded by fast moving floes in the Antarctic Sound. There were 202 passengers onboard and no one was hurt during the operation which took two hours to complete last Monday (Jan. 14), but has only just come to light.
Working at a speed of two knots, it took HMS Protector two hours to break through the ice that had trapped the cruise ship's bow.
Hurtigruten released the following statement: "On 13-14 January, Hurtigurten's ship MS Fram had decided not to sail to one of its landing points of Brown Bluff in Antarctica as the ice conditions in the area that day were challenging. However, our reports state that HMS Protector was sailing in the area and they offered assistance to MS Fram so that the ship could sail to Brown Bluff. The ship was therefore escorted in and out of Brown Bluff by HMS Protector. This was a friendly gesture between two ships who are all part of the same ‘family' when sailing in the remote areas of Antarctica."
Capt. Peter Sparkes, of HMS Protector, told the BBC: "Protector's ship's company are highly trained and well equipped to deal with a spectrum of operations in Antarctica."
MS Fram is a specially-built polar expedition ship with an ice-strengthened hull. The ship was on its 6th annual 66-day tour to Antarctica, where it spends each winter.
HMS Protector is on a patrol of the British Antarctic Territory, where it is supporting an international inspection team surveying environmentally sensitive sites around the peninsula. --by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor