Ice-bound fishing vessel close to open water

The Australian-flagged fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, freed from ice in Antarctica, is now close to open sea, but continues to be escorted by the United States Coast Guard icebreaker CG Polar Star as it travels under its own power through light ice.

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) coordinated the rescue of the vessel, which became trapped after damaging three of the four blades of its propeller and requesting assistance on Wednesday, 11 February.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said that the vessels are currently in 80 to 90% open water, compared to Antarctic Chieftain’s original position which was nearly 100% ice pack. Assessments continue on Antarctic Chieftain’s ability to proceed in open water with the intention being to return to the vessel’s home port of Nelson for repairs. The New Zealand-flagged fishing vessel Janas, currently around 110 nautical miles (200km) to the north stands ready to assist as required.

“The Masters of the Antarctic Chieftain and the Polar Star are best placed to make an assessment of the best way forward and they’ll make that decision in due course,” he said.

The Antarctic Chieftain has towing arrangements in place in the event this is required.