Yet despite scores more perforations drilled this morning in the floe, the Amundsen is still stuck fast.
So crew and scientists are again wrestling with the heavy, stinky, gas-powered augers to drill more holes through the nearly metre-thick ice along the ship’s port side.
And Captain Lise Marchand has another trick to try to dislodge the vessel from the icy vise that grasped it late yesterday. In the next hour or so, the Amundsen’s engineers will begin pumping 50,000 litres of fuel from starboard tanks to the uppermost tanks on the port side.
This added weight should increase the leverage action of the tilted ship, with the encased keel acting like a fulcrum.
If that doesn’t free the Amundsen, it’s not clear at this point what other options are available. Cutting the ship free by hand isn’t possible because the ice at the bow end is far thicker than the biggest chainsaws on board.
Larger hand saws do exist, relics of the days when ice was taken from lakes and rivers across the country for refrigeration. In my hometown of Brantford, Ont. such saws were used every spring to cut “keys” in the frozen Grand River to reduce the risks of flooding,
It’s hardy feasible to do that for a 98-metre ship, especially when it seems only one of the giant manual ice saws is still on board. Stay tuned.
Photo by Peter Calamai