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Chinese polar resupply ship Xue Long has flagged for the first time that it may need help, after spending days among Antarctic pack ice after coming to the aid of private expedition ship Akademik Shokalskiy.
The 15,000-tonne Xue Long notified the Australian Maritime Safety Authority on Friday afternoon that it had concerns about its ability to move through heavy ice.
AMSA said it had placed the Aurora Australis on standby to assist, only hours after it was stood down and allowed to proceed on its resupply mission to Casey station after taking on board 52 passengers rescued from the Shokalskiy.
Observers on the Aurora had noted that the Xue Long appeared not to have moved for days. The ship's helicopter was used to transfer the group from the Akademik Shokalskiy to ice near the Aurora.