Stranded explorers praise Inmarsat comms lifeline

31 December 2013: A team of explorers whose ship has been trapped in ice off the coast of Antarctica for over a week are using Inmarsat to stay connected to the outside world.

Scientists, reporters and students onboard the vessel became stranded when a thick pack of ice surrounded the vessel on Christmas Eve.

They were returning from a month-long scientific expedition revisiting sites first seen by Australian explorer’s Sir Douglas Mawson’s team 100 years ago.

First trapped

Attempts by icebreakers to rescue the stricken vessel have so far failed and the next step is to evacuate the 52 passengers by helicopter.

Part of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, the voyagers embarked from New Zealand aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy on 9 December.

When they were first trapped on 24 December, the ship was between two to four nautical miles from open water. However, an accumulation of sea ice driven by strong winds means they are now around 16 nautical miles from the nearest exit point.

Social media

People onboard have been documenting news of their plight via social media and video using Inmarsat satcoms. The story has been extensively covered in the international media.

Australasian Antarctic Expedition leader Chris Turney tweeted: “A huge thanks to Inmarsat for the great satellite coverage it’s providing. We couldn’t have done this without you!”

Nardev Choudhary, another member of the expedition, confirmed that the team has been using an Explorer 710 satellite terminal – which is capable of supporting Inmarsat’s new state-of-the-art high-speed data service BGAN HDR.

“The Explorer 710 gives us broadband speeds from the field. It’s wonderful for streaming film and supporting all our social media output.”

Despite their predicament, the spirits of those onboard the ship remain upbeat, and they’ve even posted a YouTube video in which they wish everyone a Happy New Year and sing a song about being stranded.

The Spirit of Mawson: