A team of 42 French researchers are stranded on an Antarctica research base after a busted propeller prevented an icebreaker ship from taking them home.
Dozens of crew members are currently stationed at France’s Antarctica base Dumont d’Urville, which depends on deliveries from the L’Astrolabe ship, according to Australia’s ABC news.
Last week the icebreaker was supposed to deliver supplies—including food, scientific equipment, and mail—and pick up researchers. But the ship’s propeller broke, according to a November 15 announcement from the Polar Institute of France. The ship is stranded in Hobart, Tasmania, waiting to be repaired.
ABC reports that the crew has not received fresh supplies since the L’Astrolabe restocked the base last February, and that many researchers are desperate to take the ship home so they can reunite with their family.
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The leader of the Dumont d’Urville mission, Alain Quivoron, told ABC that several crew members are “disappointed.”
“Most of the younger members of the mission would have been happy to stay longer, but the older ones find the situation inconvenient and would have preferred to come back to their families,” Quivoron told ABC.
But help is on the way. The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) is dispatching its icebreaker ship, Aurora Australis, to deliver supplies and collect researchers.
“There is a great spirit of co-operation and support among the nations working in Antarctica and we are very happy we can help our French colleagues when needed,” AAD director Kim Ellis said in a statement.
The ship will stock up at Hobart then cruise to Dumont d’Urville and the French-Italian base Concordia. According to the Australian government, the Aurora Australis is set to arrive at the first station by late December.