Early on Easter Sunday morning (8th April), British Antarctic Survey ship RRS Ernest Shackleton was alerted to assist a Brazilian navy vessel Ary Rongel from thick pack ice in the north eastern end of Bransfield Straits near the South Shetland Islands on the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Ary Rongel — an icebreaker and oceanographic research ship used for the Brazilian Antarctic Programme — was heading for Punta Arenas in Chile as she got stuck in the ice.
The RRS Ernest Shackleton had been in contact with the Ary Rongel throughout the day advising the staff onboard via email and VHF radio. She finally reached the Ary Rongel that evening at around 8pm as the sun was setting. By using search lights, the Ary Rongel was then able to follow RRS Ernest Shackleton through the heavy pack ice throughout a very stormy night until the following morning as they reached Deception Island and open sea.
Once out of the pack ice, the ships exchanged thank you gifts before continuing on their separate ways.
RRS Ernest Shackleton Captain John Harper said:
“A vessel in thick pack ice, with heavy ice accretion and bad weather is not a good position to be in. I think the Ary Rongel was as glad to see us as we were to assist her.”