|(c) Rolf Stange, Oceanwide Expeditions|
Ocean Expeditions (www.oceanwide-expeditions.com) says its expedition vessel Plancius experienced a mechanical issue and reduced propulsion problem that will end its “Atlantic Odyssey” voyage.
The vessel was in the midst of a lengthy adventure voyage that departed Ushuaia on March 29 and was en route to Antarctica and ultimately slated for an Atlantic Ocean crossing with disembarkation in Praia, Cape Verde on May 5.
All passengers and crew are safe, the line stressed, noting “there is no threat to life or the environment.” The ship is sheltered in what the line terms a “safe position” along the jetty of King Edward Point Research Station in Grytviken, Cumberland East Bay, South Georgia.
But given that the ship is now only able to travel at a maximum of 4 to 5 knots in calm conditions, the line said it cannot maintain course in rough seas in the open ocean.
In addition, the weather forecast is unpredictable due to the approaching winter. The line said that it opted to err on the side of caution and cancel the voyage.
So, the line is chartering another vessel, Ushuaia, which has departed for Grytviken, South Georgia from Mar del Plata, Argentina. It will arrive at about noon local time on April 18 in South Georgia and will pick up the Plancius’ 73 passengers, hospitality crew members, the six-member expedition staff and one medical doctor.
That vessel will depart the same day, arriving in Montevideo, Uruguay on April 24 for disembarkation and connecting travel arrangements.The line has notified travel agents and relatives of passengers.
After the passengers and crew are off the ship in South Georgia, Plancius will be towed with support of a tug boat. That vessel is expected to arrive in South Georgia on April 17, and depart on April 18 after the passengers are all off the ship.
All appropriate authorities are being kept abreast of development, said Ocean Expeditions. This includes the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, the National Authority of the Netherlands (the ship’s flag state) and the South Georgia Government.