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February 17, 2009

Antarctic cruise ship grounds

Another Antarctic cruise ship has been involved in a grounding incident. Coming less than two months after the Ushuia incident, it is likely to renew questions about the wisdom of Antarctic operations by commercial passenger vessels.

According to Quest Expeditions, of Norwalk, CT, at 04:30 UTC / 01:30 Local Time today, the M/V Ocean Nova grounded at 68 deg 08 s, 67 deg 06 s W in Marguerite Bay, west of Debenham Island, approximately two kilometers from the Argentine research station San Martin.

The Ocean Nova was built in 1992 at Denmark's Ørskov Shipyard for services in Greenland as the Sarpik Ittuk.

According to the Equasis data base, the Bahamian-flagged ship is owned by Nova Cruising Ltd., and managed by International Shipping, Miami.

An incident report issued by Quest Expeditions earlier today said an initial assessment of damage indicated that there was no imminent danger and no threat to lives. There is no sign of leakage of any kind from the vessel. No environmental damage is anticipated. As a precaution, Captain Per Gravesen, of M/V Ocean Nova issued a distress signal, which was recognized by the Argentine emergency services.

At the time of the incident report, Quest said "the situation remains stable and passengers are enjoying the regularly scheduled lecture program. The next high tide will be at 16:00 UTC / 13:00 Local Time at which time the ship is expected to be dislodged. Three vessels are en route to assist if required. As of 13:26 UTC /10:26 Local Time Hespedrides (a Spanish naval vessel) was 4 hours out; Castillo (an Argentine hydrographic vessel) was 12 hours out, and Clipper Adventurer, one of Quark's fleet in the vicinity, was on stand-by."

Onboard M/V Ocean Nova are: 64 passengers and 41 crew, including ship's staff comprising: 21 Americans, 7 Canadians, 7 Australians, 4 Germans, 5 Irish, 5 South Africans, 2 Argentineans, 17 Britons, 3 Dutch, 1 Swiss, 3 New Zealanders, 3 Danish, including the Captain, 18 Filipino, 1 Romanian, 2 Ukrainians, 1 Panamanian, 1 Guatemalan, 1 Columbian, 1 Russian, 1 Indonesian, 1 Honduran

Weather conditions at the site at the time of the incident report: 40-50 knot winds, moderating in the afternoon, becoming southerly.


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