Russia’s Murmansk Shipping has chartered an icebreaker to the US to help Antarctic research.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will take the 4,400-gt Vladimir Ignatyuk (built 1983) to its logistics hub at McMurdo Station for the 2011-12 winter season.

The vessel will clear a path through the ice that will allow cargoships to deliver the supplies and fuel needed to operate McMurdo and a second station at the South Pole.

NSF will pay $8m for the year.

There are options for two additional summers, in case the US Coast Guard’s icebreaker Polar Star is not back from a refit.

By Gary Dixon in London, Tradewinds
Published: 10:04 GMT, 01 Sep 11 | updated: 10:04 GMT, 01 Sep 11

Murmansk breaks ice