FEBRUARY 13, 2015 — The United States Coast Guard icebreaker CG Polar Star is now on scene of the area where the Australian-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain is trapped by ice in Antarctica, with damage to three of its four propeller blades (see previous story).
Maritime New Zealand says the Polar Star reached the Antarctic Chieftain at approximately 6.50 am on Saturday morning, local time.
Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Conrad Reynecke said the next step will be for the Polar Star to deploy an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) to assess the situation.
"This will allow them to inspect the damage to the three of the four blades of the propeller and help them to assess whether the Antarctic Chieftain is capable of making way through the ice under its own power, or whether they will have to rig tow wires to extract the vessel," Mr. Reynecke said.
Meanwhile the New Zealand-flagged fishing boat, Janas, is also proceeding to the area to provide assistance if required.
"The Janas has been making good progress, and is around 570 nautical miles (1,060 km) to the north-west, and expects to reach the area on Monday night," Mr. Reynecke said.
Weather conditions for all three vessels continue to be favorable.
The Antarctic Chieftain is located at the eastern edge of New Zealand's search and rescue region, approximately 900 nautical miles (1,700 km) from McMurdo Sound.
There is a crew of 26 on board, 13 of whom are New Zealanders.
The fishing boat's hull is not damaged, and there has been no spill of oil from the vessel.