Over the past four years annual Polar transits have increased from a mere four to more than 60, says the Swedish Club, and there is no sign it will slacken off. While the shipping industry is taking climate change in its stride even minor incidents while have potentially major impacts, both on the environment and politically, yet there is no internationally agreed polar code, or regime, for ice navigation.
Ice navigation requires a very special skills set to avoid accidents and help and incident mitigation will be difficult given polar conditions. Navigation equipment such as compasses and charts can be unreliable at these latitudes and radar returns may be misleading – aircraft have crashed when relying on radar to determine height, for instance. Yet as longer ice-free summers and increased offshore operations focus attention on the polar regions, transits to and from the Arctic ports are set to increase significantly.
Efforts to find 17 crewmen missing at sea after the sinking of a Korean fishing vessel in the Southern Ocean yesterday has been suspended, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, RCCNZ, says.
Twenty survivors and five deceased were recovered from the water after the Korean-owned and operated No. 1 Insung sank at 6.30am yesterday about 1,000 nautical miles north of McMurdo base, inside New Zealand’s search and rescue region.
The vessel is a 58 metre long-liner with crew from Korea, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Russia. It was fishing for Patagonia Toothfish, also known as Chilean Sea Bass.
Explorer, the 2,400 gross tonnes cruiseship which sank in the Bransfield Strait, South Shetlands, on 27 November 2007 with 154 passengers and crew aboard was travelling too fast in ice that was harder than the master expected, says the official report from the Liberian report on the incident. The master and crew were ‘recognised’ for their actions in the evacuation of the vessel.