f/v Antarctic Chieftain under tow of icebreaker Polar Star, Antarctic
14 February 2015
The United States Coast Guard icebreaker CG Polar Star is now towing the Australian-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain to open water in Antarctica.
The Polar Star made its way through icy waters and reached the Antarctic Chieftain earlier this morning (Saturday). After breaking the ice around the Antarctic Chieftain, the crew of the Polar Star deployed an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) to assess the extent of the propeller damage and whether the Antarctic Chieftain was capable ofmaking way through the ice under its own power.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Conrad Reynecke said the ROV was able to ascertain the extent of the damage.
“The blades were assessed as too badly damaged for the vessel to be able to use them for propulsion from the ice field. The crew on the Polar Star then rigged up tow lines and began to tow the Antarctic Chieftain to open water. They are making slow, but steady progress and are currently approximately 60 nautical miles from clear water in the North,” Mr Reynecke said.
Fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain trapped in ice with damaged propeller, Antarctic
Fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain requested assistance on Feb 11, reporting being trapped in ice with damaged propeller in the Antarctic waters, approximately 900 nautical miles (1,700km) from McMurdo Sound. The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is coordinating rescue operation, United States Coastguard icebreaker CG Polar Star is currently approximately 340 nautical miles (630km) to the west of the Antarctic Chieftain and is likely to reach the area late on on Feb 13 or early on Feb 14.
Manager of RCCNZ and Safety Services Mike Hill said the vessel’s hull was not damaged, and the crew of 27 was not at risk. There has been no spill of oil or environmental event.
“There is clear water around the vessel, so the hull is not being squeezed by the ice, but a combination of an unexpected build-up of ice floes 2-3m thick and damage to the propeller means it cannot get back to the open sea without assistance,” Mr Hill said.