Tuesday 4 January 2011

Clelia II struggles in heavy seas in Antarctic. All safe

IAATO Statement reads in part:

Reports indicate that while Clelia II was encountering rough weather and sea conditions on the morning of December 7, a large wave hit the ship, breaking the starboard bridge window and dousing some electrical circuitry. This caused a temporary loss of communications and affected engine performance. Both engines remained operational and speed was reduced. There are no injuries to passengers, although one member of the crew sustained minor injuries. The ship reports no damage to the hull or discharge of oil or any other liquids or fluids from the ship.

Another IAATO ship, the National Geographic Explorer, operated by Lindblad Expeditions, accompanied the Clelia II for much of the day and was able to provide valuable assistance in restoring Clelia II’s communications.

On December 13, the charter company, Travel Dynamics, issued the following statement.
Clelia II in Antarctica

December 13, 2010: There have been many news reports regarding the storm that Clelia II weathered while crossing the Drake Passage, December 5 – 9. Unfortunately, some of the information presented in those reports is totally inaccurate, and we would like to correct the record.

After very successful landings in Antarctica, the last of which was in Port Lockroy on Sunday, December 5, the ship encountered stormy weather the moment it entered the Drake Passage. The wind was blowing at 50 knots, and the waves were 30-35 feet high. Captain Petersen, the master of the ship and a very seasoned mariner who has navigated the Drake over 150 times, reported that he has never seen weather conditions like these. Given the stormy weather, the ship reduced speed and was cruising slowly toward Ushuaia throughout the day and night of Monday, December 6. Tuesday morning, December 7, the storm intensified, and at 10:40 a.m. an extraordinarily large wave hit the ship, breaking one of the bridge windows. Water entered the bridge, damaging some of the electronic equipment. The main engines and electric generators were not affected and continued to operate.

The National Geographic Explorer was about 20 miles away, and was asked by the Clelia II’s captain to sail close to the Clelia II to render assistance, if needed. The Explorer stayed close to the Clelia II for about two hours, and when it was determined that Clelia II was managing well on its own, Explorer sailed away to resume its schedule.

Once out of the center of the storm, Clelia II was able to increase its speed and continued its course to Ushuaia, where it arrived in the evening of December 9. No passengers sustained any injuries. One crew member was injured slightly. During the storm, all the normal services to the passengers, such as meals, were fully provided.

It has been reported that the ship sent a distress call. It did not. It was also reported that the ship lost power. It did not – even at the height of the storm. We have asked the news media to correct the inaccurate statements they have made.

We are grateful to the passengers, who kept their composure and spirits up during the storm; to the ship’s captain, officers and crew for their superb seamanship; to the team of expedition leaders, who kept the passengers informed through their frequent briefings; and to the captain, officers and crew of the Explorer for their willingness to help.

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