Cruise Ship Explorer Antarctic Abandonment – Update

John Konrad
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November 23, 2007

Explorer II Capsized in Antartica

David Hindin, a gCaptain reader from the San Francisco Bay Area pointed us to this image and audio file from the New York Times. They tell us;

A small, historic cruise ship with an imperfect security record was listing dangerously after it struck ice in Antarctic waters today, with 154 passengers and crew members evacuated in a flotilla of lifeboats and inflatable boats, the cruise operator and coast guards said.

Late into the day, the small red and white ship — named the Explorer but known affectionately as “the little red ship” — was listing steeply to starboard, nearly on its side, awash in ice floes and steely gray water. The vessel — on an expedition to trace the doomed route of the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton — sent out a distress signal in the middle of the night (5:24 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time) after it began to take in water through “a fist-sized hole,” said Dan Brown, a spokesman for G.A.P. Adventures, the Toronto-based tour operator that owns and operates the ship. He said the “running assumption” is that it hit an iceberg. Water began to trickle into a cabin and eventually flooded the engine room, causing the ship to lose power.

The accident occurred well north of the Antarctic Circle in an island chain that is part of the Antarctic peninsula, which juts close to South America and has seen sharp warming of temperatures in recent years.As the satellite distress signal was being picked up by coast guard stations in Britain; Norfolk, Va.; and Ushuaia, Argentina, the ship’s 100 passengers — 14 of them American, 24 British, 17 Dutch, 12 Canadian and a smattering of other nationalities— were awakened and told to don warm clothes and life preservers, said Mark Clark, a spokesman for Britain’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which was one of the first authorities to receive the distress signal. They clambered down ladders on the ship’s side to board lifeboats.

Mr. Clark said they were taken aboard a small research vessel, the National Geographic Endeavour, that was nearby, before they were transferred to a Norwegian cruise line.

You can continue reading this NYTimes story by clicking HERE.

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