Earlier this year, a Russian research ship, Akademik Shokalskiy, got stuck in the ice off the Antarctic coast, carrying 52 crew and passengers, including scientists, tourists and news media and requiring rescue. The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long came to their aid, but it, too, got trapped in the ice. When it seemed as those both ships were stuck, United States dispatched a rescue ship, the Polar Star, which was called en route after the Chinese vessel broke free.
What made this rescue mission unique was not so much the enormous, multinational operation, but rather, as National Geographic's David Roberts notes, the totally disengaged attitude with which the passengers of the Russian ship handled the crisis, who seemed if anything to relish the affair.
While the entire expedition drew criticism even before news of that the ship had become ice-bound, during the drama, the passengers passed the time amusing themselves recording sing-a-long or chatting about yoga classes while the crews of the Russian and Chinese ships worked diligently to see both vessels out of peril. The passengers were eventually rescued by helicopter and taken to an Australian government supply ship, the Aurora Australis.
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