Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Antarctica: Sinking of the MS Explorer update

In late 2007, I reported on the sinking of the cruise ship M/S Explorer off the coast of Antarctica for The Christian Science Monitor, with a follow up on how the facts as they had been presented did not add up. Since then we've been waiting for the government of Liberia -- where the Canadian-owned vessel was flagged -- to release the results of their investigation.

Sunday the London Independent reported on the leaked contents of that report, which apparently suggest that the Explorer's captain was responsible for plowing into what one passenger called a "wall of ice." The leak comes at an uncomfortable time for the Antarctic cruise ship industry, as it comes in the midst of a major annual meeting of the parties to the Antarctica Treaty, who are considering tighter restrictions on cruise ships there.

I saw the M/S Explorer in Greenland a few months before her final voyage. The vessel I was on at the time -- while covering the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople's efforts to draw attention to climate change -- also suffered a serious accident in Antarctica later that season.

I visited the Antarctic for six weeks in 1998 while writing my first book, Ocean's End: Travels Through Endangered Seas, and happened to pass through the straits in which the Explorer went down. As you'd expect, it's a cold and forbidding, not the sort of place you'd want to face in an open lifeboat.

Photograph (c) 2008 Colin S Woodard.

No comments:

Post a Comment