The United States Coast Guard icebreaker CG Polar Star heading to assist an Australian-flagged fishing vessel trapped by ice in Antarctica is expected to reach the vessel early tomorrow morning, if conditions permit.
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is responding to a request for assistance from the 63m Antarctic Chieftain, owned by Australian Longline Pty, which became trapped after damaging three of the four blades of its propeller.
The Polar Star has been making its way through icy waters to the vessel and is currently expecting to reach the Antarctic Chieftain in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Saturday).
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Greg Johnston said the skipper of the icebreaker has indicated he intends to tow the Antarctic Chieftain into open waters tomorrow morning. The damage to the fishing vessel’s propeller means it cannot get back to the open sea without assistance.
Meanwhile the New Zealand-flagged fishing boat, Janas, is also proceeding to the area to provide assistance if required. The Janas is around 730 nautical miles (1350km) to the north-west, and expects to reach the area on Sunday morning.
Weather conditions for all three vessels continue to be favourable.
The Antarctic Chieftain is located at the eastern edge of New Zealand’s search and rescue region, approximately 900 nautical miles (1700km) from McMurdo Sound.
There is a crew of 26 on board, 13 of which are New Zealanders.
The fishing boat’s hull is not damaged, and there has been no spill of oil from the vessel.