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She’s Gone: MS Explorer sinks off Antarctica

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On November - 23 - 2007

GAP Explorer sinking off Antarctica (Photo courtesy of Chilean Navy via AP) G.A.P. MS Explorer has gone to Davy Jones Locker. Chilean navy vessels in the area lost sight of the stricken vessel some 20 hours after the pre-dawn accident, and wreckage indicated it had gone under completely. 

GAP Explorer sinking (Photo by Chilean Air Force via AP)A major rescue operation involving Canadian expedition cruise ship Explorer took place in the Antarctic Ocean early this morning. The vessel apparently hit an iceberg and started sinking. All 100 passengers and 54 crew abandoned ship and took to eight semi-rigid lifeboats and four life rafts awaiting rescue. No injuries were reported.

Approximately two hours after the distress call went out the Hurtigruten ship MS Nordnorge took the stranded passengers and crew on board.

The 1969-built Explorer is operated by Toronto-based G.A.P. Adventures. The statement said Explorer was some 475 nautical miles southeast of Ushuaia, the southernmost Argentine city and a jumping-off point for cruise ships and supply vessels for Antarctica. An Argentine rescue and command center received a first distress call at 11:30 p.m. EST Thursday from the Explorer amid reports it was taking on water through the hull despite efforts to use onboard pumps.

Nationalities on board the Explorer include 24 Britons, 17 Dutch, 14 Americans, 12 Canadian and 10 Australians. Other nationalities include Argentineans, Belgians, Chinese, Danes, French, Irish, Japanese, Swiss, Colombian, Swedes and Germans, G.A.P. Adventures said.

Hurtigruten’s Nordnorge, is en route to King George Island in Maxwell Bay where the Explorer’s passengers will board a transport plane back to Argentina,

According to Seatrade Insider, Explorer has been plying Antarctic waters for decades. Expedition travel pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad first used the newly minted ship to sail to the White Continent in 1969. Abercrombie & Kent acquired Explorer in 1992 and sold it to the Vlasov Group in 2003. It was subsequently acquired by Toronto-based G.A.P. Adventures.

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