Quark Expeditions Cruise Ship Ocean Nova Grounded Antarctica – On February 17, 2009, the Ocean Nova, owned by Quark Expeditions and flagged in the Bahamas, has run aground (see video below) off the coast of Antarctica. Quark Expeditions says that the Ocean Nova has an ice-strengthened hull that has enabled the ship to park in the ice of the Weddell Sea.
Reports say that there are 74 passengers and 30 crew aboard the stranded ship, that ran aground near the Antarctica base of San Marin. The ship has 37 cabins.
The company says the ship only holds 68 passengers and 38 crew, though it is reported that 74 passengers were aboard during the incident.
Ocean Nova departs Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, then goes through the treacherous Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula on a 12-day voyage at a price of $5200 an up.
Private double occupancy, the standard on cruise ships is $7,400 per person. The site shows a questionable fuel surcharge of $580 per person.
The primary feature of the Ocean Nova is the Glass-enclosed observation lounge and presentation room that allow passengers to view the landscape in a protected, glass enclosed, temperature controlled environment, for maximum comfort.
The crew of the Ocean Nova is waiting for high tide, so that hopefully they can float the vessel off the rocks, without damaging the vessel.
Preparations to evacuate 74 passengers and 30 crew members to Argentina’s Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, are underway.
San Martin Base on Antarctica is operated by the Argentine Army. It is located at 68°7′S 67°6′W. The base was founded on March 21, 1951 by Colonel D. H. Pujtajo, who named the base after the Argentine independence hero General José de San Martín. The number of people living in it is between 18 and 20.
Early reports of the accident came from C5N television in Argentina with information coming from their Antarctica army base after a distress call was received by Ocean Nova.
The ship is claiming that strong winds blew the Ocean Nova off course, onto the rocks. It would seem that knowing the winds were strong, the officers would have made sure they steered far away from shore to avoid such a disastrous result.
While the ship is said to not be taking on water or leaking fuel, as long as any holes in ship stay plugged while grounded, they may not leak. When the ship is floated off the rocks or pulled off, if there is going to be a leak, that is when it is likely to be discovered.
Many captains have found out the hard way that the wrong thing to do when grounded is to try to force the vessel off the rocks or sandbar. This is when the holes made during the grounding are no longer filled, the ship is then in danger of sinking after water floods through the hole(s), then also spilling contaminants into the water.
This far from civilization, it would not be a good idea to put passengers in danger by trying to force the vessel back into the water.
Video: Cruise Ship Trapped in Antarctica