Australia will send a support vessel to assist the Antarctic resupply vessel MPV Everest in the Southern Ocean with 109 people on board after the ship suffered a fire in one of its engine rooms, the Australian Antarctic Division has reported.
MPV Everest, which is chartered by the Division, experienced a fire in its port engine room on Tuesday while returning home after a two month resupply mission to the Davis and Mawson research stations in east Antarctica. The vessel was able to continue under its own power and was last reported located about 1200 nautical miles south of Fremantle, traveling at a speed of about 10 knots.
Nobody on board was injured in the fire, which was isolated and extinguished by the ship’s fire suppression system.
“As a precautionary measure the AAD and the ship’s owner, Maritime Construction Services (MCS), have identified two potential support vessels to meet MPV Everest,” said Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) General Manager of Operations, Charlton Clark.
“Both vessels are in Western Australia and are being assessed for their technical capabilities,” said Clark, adding that a decision on which vessel will be utilized will be made soon.
The ship is not in distress, but Clark says having a second vessel nearby “will hopefully provide some reassurance”.
The MPV Everest is currently operating using its starboard engine, which was shut down for about an hour on Wednesday to rectify a maintenance issue. Afterwards, the ship continued under its own power.
MPV Everest was five days into a 14-day return voyage to Hobart when the fire started approximately 550 nautical miles northeast Mawson Station. The fire reportedly engulfed the ship’s port engine room and two Inflatable rubber boats on deck. The Australian Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident, has classified the damage as “substantial.”
An earlier update from the Antarctic Division on Wednesday said the ship will dock in Fremantle, Western Australia, rather than Hobart as originally planned.
“Our focus is the safety and well-being of our expeditioners and we are focused on getting them home as quickly as possible,” Clark said.
The ship’s owner is Luxembourg-based Maritime Construction Services (MCS) and the vessel itself is registered in the Bahamas. Built in 2017, Everest it a ice-class multi-purpose vessel capable of operating in ice up to 1 meters thick.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Response Centre is continuing to monitor the transit of MPV Everest and is in regular communication with the vessel.
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