Update at 6:15 p.m. ET. Chinese Icebreaker Gets Stuck:
The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon became stuck in the ice itself as it tried to reach the stranded vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority tweeted:
"Our rescue boat, the Xue Long, has had to turn back because the ice was too thick for it to get through. We're now awaiting Aurora Australis," said Alok Jha, a journalist on board the Shokalskiy.
Here's our original post, which seemed a bit more hopeful earlier in the day ...
"There's a lot of relief amongst the team and there's lots of happy faces," expedition leader Chris Turney said Friday in a fresh video posted from the deck of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy — an expedition vessel that's been trapped by Antarctic Sea ice since Monday.
Smiles are creasing the faces of the 74 crew members and passengers aboard the Russian-flagged ship because they can see a Chinese ice breaker, the Snow Dragon, approaching.
In the video, on which Turney says it's about 9:30 p.m. Friday (he seems to be referring to the time in his native Australia, which means he was speaking at 5:30 a.m. ET), he predicts the Snow Dragon "should be alongside ... in the next 2-3 hours."
As CNN writes, the passengers and crew on the stranded ship spent Christmas "at a frozen standstill 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D'Urville, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Tasmania." Turney, a University of New South Wales professor of climate change, told the news network Friday that "everyone is fine. ... The vessel is safe, and we're looking forward to getting home and having a decent cup of coffee soon."
According to The Associated Press, "the scientific team on board the vessel — which left New Zealand on Nov. 28 — had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, Turney said."
Two other icebreakers are also making their way told the MV Akademik Shokalskiy in case more help is needed.
Turney is posting a steady stream of updates here.
Update at 11:50 a.m. ET. Get There Today?
Reuters writes that of the three ships headed to the scene, "the first, a Chinese icebreaker, is expected to arrive ... on Dec. 28," the Russian Foreign
Ministry says. If that's referring to Australian time, then Dec. 28 — Saturday — has arrived.
Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Snow Dragon Stalled?
"A mission to free a research ship trapped in an Antarctic ice floe has stalled out for now, but is within sight of the trapped vessel, the captain of a Chinese ice breaker told CNN on Friday."
Capt. Wang Jiangzhong said his ship is about six nautical miles from the MV Akademik Shokalskiy.