OSLO: Norway has rescued a Russian in need of emergency medical assistance on board a scientific vessel stuck in ice near the North Pole in a spectacular helicopter operation, its rescue services said on Wednesday.
The evacuation took place on Tuesday evening from the Russian ship Severny Polyus (North Pole), located at the 86th parallel, above Norway’s Svalbard archipelago some 240 nautical miles (445 kilometres, 275 miles) from the North Pole.
“This is the world’s northernmost evacuation of a patient ever,” said the Norwegian-based Barents Observer.
At the request of Russian authorities, Norway dispatched a Super Puma helicopter from Longyearbyen, the main town on Svalbard — some 500 nautical miles away — to evacuate a Russian whose condition was considered too serious to be treated on board.
“It’s the extreme limit of what the helicopter can do” in terms of range, a spokesman for Norway’s Bodo rescue centre, Rune Danielsen, said. “The slightest detail counts when going that far: weight, wind conditions, etc,” he said.
The operation was carried out in line with Norwegian-Russian bilateral accords on Arctic search and rescues, despite a deterioration of relations between the two countries since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to its maker Airbus Helicopters, the H215 Super Puma has a maximum range of 866 kilometres without an additional external tank.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2023