Saturday, 5 February 2011

Passengers of Damaged Polar Star Transfer to Other Ships


Polar Star Expeditions reports that the transfer of Antarctic passengers from its damaged Polar Star was proceeding Feb. 3, with 62 passengers aboard two other vessels and returning to Ushuaia, Argentina, according to a press release from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. The remaining passengers were expected to transfer to a third ship the evening of Feb. 3. The other ships are IAATO members.

The Polar Star was damaged Jan. 31 when it hit an unchartered rock when anchoring just north of Detaille Island at the Antarctic Peninsula. It at first appeared that the inner hull of the double-hulled ship was undamaged, but the ship sailed to Arctowski Station, a Polish research facility on King George Island in the South Shetland Islands. There, an underwater survey discovered additional damage and the company decided to transfer passengers to other ships rather than ferry them back to Argentina through the often-rough Drake Passage.

On Feb. 3, 42 passengers were transferred to the Marina Svetaeva, operated by One Ocean Expeditions of Edmonton, Canada. Twenty more passengers transferred to the Ushuaia of Ushuaia-based Antarpply Expeditions.

Eight passengers will transfer the evening of Feb. 3 to the Expedition, operated by GAP Adventures of Toronto, Canada. The remaining 10 manifested passengers—who are Polar Star lecturers and field staff—will stay aboard, along with the 35 crew members, for the return voyage to Ushuaia, once the final transfer to the Expedition takes place.

All three receiving vessels involved in the return of the Polar Star passengers—as well as the Polar Star itself—are expected to arrive in Ushuaia the morning of Feb. 6.

Martin Karlsen, president of Polar Star Expeditions, noted his gratitude to his colleagues at One Ocean Expeditions, Antarpply Expeditions and GAP Adventures for making arrangements to accommodate his guests. “We also greatly appreciate the kindness and cooperation of the passengers on the receiving ships for doubling up in cabins to make space available for the transfer of our passengers back to Ushuaia,” he added.

Karlsen stated that the support provided by the other companies is good evidence of the effectiveness of the IAATO contingency plan. For more information, visit www.polarstarexpeditions.com or www.iaato.org.