Saturday, February 26, 2005

Icebound German Ship Leaps Before It Looks

The German cargo ship Passat, drifting amidst a 32-mile ice floe near the southern tip of the Sakhalin Island since Thursday, has been assisted by the Russian tanker Renda, reports the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Maritime Rescue center. The Bremen-based Passat, displacing more than 5,000 tons and carrying a crew of 14, was sailing from Korsakov, Sakhalin to Pusan, South Korea when she found herself hemmed in by heavy ice while trying to cruise through the Straight of Laporyz near the Okhotsk Sea on Thursday. With every mile it advanced, the ice became thicker and pressed tighter against the hull of the struggling vessel. By the time the decision was made to turn back, the ship’s exit had already been choked off by ice. The Passat's captain sent out a distress call that was picked up by the Renda, a powerful ice-breaking-class vessel from Vladivostok. The tanker, which boasts a reinforced hull for Arctic navigation, then rushed to the rescue. On Friday the crew of Renda managed to punch a 60-mile path through the channel to reach the icebound Passat. Cutting away ice from the hull of the ship, the Renda discovered a crew of 11 Ukranians, two Germans and one Russian, all of whom were rescued uninjured.

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