- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Free at last, free at last. All ships trapped in the ice of Antarctica have finally broken free their icy bounds and moved from the danger zone.

Rescue ships from the United States have been told to stand down, Australian officials said on Wednesday, NBC reported.

More than 50 scientists conducting a climate change research mission, along with several tourists and researchers, were airlifted from the Russian craft, Akademik Shokalskiy, after it was stuck in icy waters in the Antarctica on Dec. 24.

A Chinese icebreaker sent to chip out the Russian ship was subsequently trapped. Australian officials then airlifted the passengers to safety and asked the United States Coast Guard to send in help.

But the two ships finally broke free, and the U.S. Coast Guard was told to go home.

“The Akademik Shokalskiy and the Xue Long have broken free from the ice in Antarctica and are no longer in need of assistance,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement Wednesday, NBC reported. “The Captain of the Akademik Shokalskiy passed on his thanks to all those who assisted the vessel and informed … that they will now proceed to Bluff in New Zealand.”