Canadian cruise ship sinking in Antarctic

Friday, November 23, 2007

Location of the south Shetland Islands

Canadian cruise ship MS Explorer is sinking in Antarctic waters, near the South Shetland Islands. Having struck an unknown underwater object and taking on water, all but the captain and chief officer of the 156 on board, have abandoned ship for life boats and await rescue.

Despite having a strong reinforced ice breaking hull, the ship is said to be listing heavily and expected to sink soon. A cruise ship in the vicinity, the Antarctic Dream, has been diverted to help but is not expected to arrive until at least 11.00 hours UTC. Four Argentine vessels were also dispatched but are not expected to arrive for some time.

The rescue effort is an international affair, being undertaken by the Argentine Coast Guard, with help from the U.S. Coast Guard in Norfolk, Virginia, and the U.K. Coast Guard in Falmouth in an advisory capacity.