Australian Ambassador Peter Grey on Tuesday presented Education Minister Akito Arima and two Self-Defense Forces captains with photographs of the Shirase, a Japanese observation ship, during its rescue of Australian Antarctic research ship Aurora Australis in December.

The Australian ship suffered a major mechanical failure 120 km off Australia’s Antarctic base in early December and became trapped in an ice field.

The 11,600-ton Shirase immediately offered to rescue the 7,000-ton ship by breaking through the ice and pulling it to safety.

The Shirase crew received a certificate of gratitude March 27 from the Australian overnment in Sydney on its way back to Japan.

In Tuesday’s ceremony, Grey expressed his gratitude to the people of Japan, saying the rescue operation was carried out in “the best tradition of maritime safety and cooperation.”

Arima replied by saying these acts are reciprocal and they may help Japanese research ships in the future. He referred to a Japanese research vessel that was rescued by a Russian ship in the 1960s during the Cold War era.

The two who received the commemorative photographs are Capt. Ko Banno, representing the Defense Agency, and the Shirase’s commanding officer, Capt. Seiji Shigehara.

The Shirase returned to Tokyo Tuesday morning.

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