Coast Guard, NTSB and partners investigate Antarctic cruise passenger deathsWritten by Nick Blenkey
If you were thinking that an “adventure cruise” to Antarctic waters could be fun, you just might want to reconsider.
U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and international flag administrations are investigating marine casualties involving the death or injury of U.S. citizens on foreign-flagged passenger vessels in Antarctic waters between Nov. 15 and Dec. 1, 2022. In that short time span, there were four U.S. cruise passenger fatalities and several injuries in the region.
The investigations include:
Two U.S. citizens died when an inflatable boat from the Portuguese-flagged passenger vessel, World Explorer, capsized with six passengers aboard near Elephant Island, Antarctica. Portugal is the lead investigative state, and the Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.
A U.S. citizen was injured when an inflatable boat from the Norwegian-flagged passenger vessel, Viking Polaris, sustained a keel-bladder failure near Damoy Point, Antarctica. Norway is the lead investigative state, and the Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.
One U.S. citizen died, and four others were injured when the Viking Polaris was struck by a large wave in the Drake Passage while transiting to Ushuaia, Argentina. Norway is the lead investigative state, and the Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.
A U.S. citizen aboard the Netherlands-flagged passenger vessel Plancius died from an injury sustained aboard the vessel. The Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation in coordination with officials from the Netherlands and the Falkland Islands.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those impacted by these tragedies,” said Capt. Gretchen Bailey, Coast Guard Activities Europe commanding officer. “The safety of U.S. passengers aboard ships throughout the globe is a priority for the U.S. Coast Guard. We are proud to work alongside the NTSB and our international partners to investigate these incidents and make meaningful safety improvements for worldwide passenger vessel operations, especially in unique high-risk environments like the Antarctic.”
The United States will participate and assist in the World Explorer and Viking Polaris investigations as a substantially interested state in accordance with International Maritime Organization protocols and Coast Guard policy. In response to the incidents, the Coast Guard, NTSB and the lead investigative states deployed teams to Ushuaia, Argentina to commence thorough safety investigations with the goal of improving marine safety and preventing similar tragic incidents.
If the public has any information about these incidents, please contact [email protected]