Two Russian Icebreakers Are Currently Stuck in Sea Ice - Atlas Obscura
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Two Russian Icebreakers Are Currently Stuck in Sea Ice

They were attempting a historic journey.

The Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn—currently stuck in Arctic ice—on a simpler journey in 2001.
The Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn—currently stuck in Arctic ice—on a simpler journey in 2001. Pathfinder Linden/CC BY 2.0

On December 14th, two Russian cargo ships set out from the port of Arkhangelsk, near the country’s western border, about 3000 miles to Pevek, its northernmost point. With the help of two icebreakers, they arrived on January 7th, successfully delivering supplies for a floating power plant. Satisfied, they turned around and began chugging back.

And then, 24 miles into their return journey, they got stuck.

The cargo ships and icebreakers alike are “trapped by sudden thick ice… in some of Russia’s most exposed waters,” the Siberian Times reports. The ice is currently one meter thick. The crew, which has plenty of food, water and fuel, is hanging tight until a helicopter can help pinpoint an escape route. They expect to get out within the week.

This particular crossing hadn’t been attempted since the Soviet era. Carriers had hoped to pull it off this year to prove that, thanks to climate change, shipping lanes can stay open year-round. But for now, it seems, the ice had its revenge.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.