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December 8, 2010

Antarctic cruise ship in trouble - again

The antarctic cruise ship Clelia II was yesterday limping towards Ushuaia at Argentina's southern tip with 101 passenger and 65 crew members on board. The ship, operated by Polar Cruises and managed by Lindos Maritime, lost power in one engine after encountering heavy weather in Drake Passage.

This comes not quite one year after a December 26, 2009 incident in which the ship hit rocks while preparing for a passenger landing at Petermann Island, Penola Strait, Antarctic Peninsula. In that incident, the ship suffered damage to the starboard propeller and resulted in the shutdown of the starboard engine and the loss of electrical power. The ship subsequently returned to Ushuia under escort and was pulled from service for propeller repairs.

In this latest incident, just after noon yesterday the Argentinian Navy Search and Rescue Coordinating Center in Ushuaia was notified by another cruise ship, the NG Explorer that Clelia II had lost power in one of its engines and was "showing serious limitations in propulsion and maneuverability."

The Ushuia Coordinating Center informed its counterpart in Punta Arenas, Chile, which took control of the incident as the ship was in its area of responsibility, being then 320 nautical miles south of Cape Horn and 130 nautical miles northwest of Shetland Islands in the Chilean Antarctic Territory.

Weather conditions in the area included 50 knot winds and wave heights of 7 to 8 meters.

The weather conditions in the area have approximately 50 knots winds and waves seven to eight meters high, which will remain for the next 36 hours.

The Punta Arenas coordinating center instructed the NG Explorer to remain in the vicinity of the Clelia II. It also put the U.S. National Science Foundation icebreaker Laurence M. Gould on standby to provide assistance and ordered the Chilean Navy vessel ATF Lauro to suspend its operations and proceed to the area.That order was rescinded when it became clear that the Clelia II had regained sufficient mobility to return to Ushuia.

Built in 1990 and refurbished in 2009, the Maltese flag Clelia II is billed as a luxury all-suite vessel. It has a length of 290 ft, beam of 50 ft and 4,077 gross tonnage.


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