Chinese icebreaker Xuelong sets off for the southern Indian Ocean to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Fremantle, Australia, on March 21, 2014. Antarctic research vessel Xuelong set out to searh the missing jetliner on Friday evening after berthing at Australian port of Fremantle for replenishment. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiansong)
Perth, March 21 (Xinhua) -- After a frustrating day on the high- seas, the ongoing southern ocean search for Malaysian Airlines MH370 has received a much-needed morale boost with the famed Chinese Ice Breaker, Xue Long, or "snow Dragon," joining the search after fitting out in Fremantle port, Friday.
As Australian, New Zealand and U.S. air force planes returned empty-handed from a remote area of the Southern Ocean, based on satellite coordinates of possible debris, some 2,500 south-west of Perth, the Lead Science Officer Liu Shun Lin told Xinhua that there was extraordinary urgency among the skeleton crew as the vessel sought to refuel and refit and join the search as soon as possible.
"We have selected 87 crew members from a possible 160... These 87 are a lighter, but more experienced crew when it comes to this kind of mission."
Liu told Xinhua the Xue Long would arrive within three to four days, having refuelled with great urgency, taking on enough resources to stay at sea for 20 days.
The skeleton crew were seen hauling cargo as the giant ice- water research vessel edged out of Fremantle port on a beautiful, if pregnant Friday evening.
A red sun disappeared behind the Xue Long's red hull. And for those few watching the scene -- the great Ice Breaker silently moving out to open sea -- a sense of hope and sorrow familiar to those that have searched without joy for so long.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come in for criticism after a fruitless day of searching, more than 1,000 nautical miles from Fremantle, where commercial satellite identified possible MH370 debris on Thursday.
Mr. Abbott was forced to defend the Australian announcement that 'objects' in the Indian Ocean were 'our best lead yet for solving the mystery of Malaysia Airlines jet 370.
Abbott said it was his duty to 'try to resolve what is as yet an extraordinary riddle.'
"We owe it to them to do everything we can to resolve this and because of the understandable state of anxiety and apprehension that they're in, we also owe it to them to give them information as soon as it's to hand."
The unscheduled diversion for the Xue Long to join the two-week long search for the Boeing 777 that vanished in the gulf of Thailand on March 8, is just the latest in what has surely become one of modern China's more remarkable voyages.
The Ice Breaker left Shanghai on Nov. 7, 2013 for another scientific expedition to Antarctica.
The Xue Long spent Christmas alongside the Russian research vessel after assuring a safe resolution to the situations that emerged following a distress incident experienced by MV Akademik Shokalskiy in Commonwealth Bay on Christmas Day.
This latest expedition -- scheduled to cover 155 days, 31,500 nautical miles -- will see the ice breaker respond to an AMSA distress request for the second time in 2014.
Usually the Xue long runs with a crew of more than 250, but the decision by Xuelong's captain, Wang Jianzhong, to reduce the crew to 87 reflects the urgency of their new mission.
So many hopes from around the world go with them.
China's icebreaker joins MH370 debris search
BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- China's oceanic administration on Friday said icebreaker Xuelong is heading for the southern Indian Ocean to search for wreckage from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Xuelong (Snow Dragon) was ordered to set out around 5 p.m. Beijing time from the Western Australian port of Fremantle, where it arrived to take on supplies on Friday morning. Full story
China, Australia communicating on MH370 search: FM
BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- China is in close communication with Australia on the search for the missing MH370 plane, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Friday.
He told a daily press briefing that the China has sent several vessels to the area where possible debris was spotted and got support and cooperation from the Australian side. Full story
China sets up working group to guide icebreaker's MH370 search
BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- China's oceanic administration on Friday set up a working group to manage icebreaker Xuelong's search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Xuelong(Snow Dragon) is set to head for the southern Indian Ocean before 6 p.m. Friday local time from the western Australian port of Fremantle, where it arrived to resupply on Friday morning. Full story
Chinese icebreaker Xuelong to head for MH370 search
ABOARD XUELONG, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese icebreaker Xuelong is set to head for the southern Indian Ocean on Friday to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Upon arrival at the western Australian port of Fremantle for replenishment on Friday morning, the long-serving Antarctic research vessel received orders from the State Oceanic Administration of China to join the hunt. Full story
Chinese vessel hunting MH370 near Christmas Island
ABOARD HAIXUN 01, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese vessel "Haixun 01" is searching for the lost Malaysian jet in waters near Christmas Island in the southern Indian Ocean on Friday.
The vessel was about 110 nautical miles west of the island at 9 a.m. Beijing time, and will sail southward to continue searching together with another vessel, "Nanhaijiu 101," a Xinhua reporter on board the ship said. Full story
Chinese vessels set out for S. Indian Ocean, multinational search for suspicious debris resumes
BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- More Chinese vessels will set out for the southern Indian Ocean to search for the missing Malaysian jetliner, while the multinational search operation for suspicious debris of MH370 resumes on Friday.
Chinese rescue vessels Haixun 01 and Nanhaijiu 101 will sail off to the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, more than 3,000 km southwest off Perth, Australia, where possible MH370 debris was found on Thursday through satellite imagery. Full story
China Air Force sends 3 aircraft for missing plane search
BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese Air Force planes have been sent to Malaysia to help with the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Upon commands of the Central Military Commission, the aircraft, two IL-76 transport planes and a Yun-8 cargo plane, took off from south China's Sanya airport at about 8 a.m. on Friday, saidPeople's Liberation ArmyAir Force spokesman Shen Jinke. Full story