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January 04, 2014 AT 12:59 PM
The Coast Guard announced Saturday that the United States is sending a heavy icebreaker to help free a Russian ship and a Chinese icebreaker gripped by Antarctic ice. The Polar Star is responding to a request for assistance from Australian authorities as well as from the Russian and Chinese governments. A Chinese icebreaker that helped rescue 52 passengers from a Russian ship stranded in Antarctic ice found itself stuck in heavy ice on Friday. The Polar Star is 399 feet long with a maximum speed of 18 knots.