IAATO comments on missing Antarctic yacht

The IAATO comments on the yacht missing in the AntarcticThe International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) has released a statement regarding the Berserk, a Norwegian yacht that went missing in the Antarctic last week. While calling the incident “tragic,” the statement reiterates that the ship was not part of the organization, and was operating without regard to important safety guidelines.

The IAATO is a member-based organization that is focused on delivering safe and environmentally responsible options for travel to Antarctica. The association is made up of tour operators and travel companies who work together to ensure that sailing through the Southern Ocean is free from danger and available to all. Members are required to obtain all the necessary sailing permits from national authorities before they set out on their voyage, as well as provide an itinerary that offers details on what course they will be following as they travel throughout the region. The crew of the Berserk, did none of those things before setting out on their ill fated journey.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Berserk was sailing 18 nautical miles off the coast of Antarctica when it activated its emergency locator beacon. Massive storms were hitting the area at the time, and the high winds and rough waters prevented rescue operations from commencing for more than 24 hours. By the time search and rescue teams hit the area, the beacon was no longer transmitting and the yacht could not be reached by radio. It was believed that the ship had five passenger on board, but two of them were later found, alive and well, on the Antarctic continent, where they were embarking on a journey to the South Pole. The story took an ominous turn later in the week when an abandoned life raft was discovered adrift in the ocean, with no sign of passengers. Later, it was discovered that the Berserk was sailing without permits and without alerting any kind of national authority of their planned course.

Sailing in the Southern Ocean is a dangerous proposition, even in the best of times. The storms are powerful and massive icebergs lurk just beneath the surface, waiting to punch a hole through the hulls of passing ships. Because of these dangers, the IAATO released a set of guidelines for independent sailors on private ships passing through Antarctic waters. Sadly, had the crew of the Berserk heeded those guidelines, there is a better chance that they would be alive today.

To read the full statement from the IAATO, click here.

[Photo credit: IAATO]

Search for missing antarctic yacht officially called off

Search and rescue operations for the missing antartic yacht the Bererk have been called off. After nearly a week of searching, rescue teams have called off efforts to find a missing yacht that disappeared in Antarctic waters last week. The ship had three crew members on board at the time.

The Norwegian yacht Berserk was sailing in the Southern Ocean last Tuesday when the region was beset with bad storms. For unknown reasons, the crew activated the ship’s emergency locator beacon, calling for help. it was more than 24 hours before rescue operations could commence, and by that time the beacon was no longer transmitting and all attempts to hail the vessel were met with failure.

At the time, it was thought that the ship had five crew members aboard, but a day later two of the crew were found alive and well on the Antarctic continent itself. They included the ship’s skipper Jarle Andhoey, who was attempting to make a journey by ATV to the South Pole. Andhoey provided SAR teams with information on the the possible course that the ship was on when it went missing.

Further clues about the ship’s fate came a day later when a liferaft was discovered adrift in the sea. It was damaged and missing its first aid kit, but it was clearly from the Berserk. It could not be determined if the raft was set afloat on accident or if someone had used it to escape the ship.

The search continued throughout the weekend, but today New Zealand officials called off the operation, dismissing all ships committed to the mission. It seems that after a week, they are resigned to the fact that the Berserk is gone, and the three crew members on board went with her.

The story doesn’t end there however, as Andhoey is now due back in New Zealand, where he’ll have to provide answers about what the ship was doing in the Southern Ocean and what safety precautions had been taken. There are some indications that the crew ignored some important safety rules and that that may have contributed to ships demise.

Missing Antarctic yacht update: life raft found, ship still missing

The life raft for the missing ship in the antarctic has been foundSearch and rescue teams discovered a life raft adrift in the Southern Ocean yesterday that they say is from the Berserk, a Norwegian-flagged yacht that went missing earlier in the week. The raft was spotted by a helicopter that had been combing the area the past few days, searching for clues as to the fate of the ship.

On Tuesday of this week, the Berserk was sailing just off the coast of Antarctica when storms brought high winds and heavy seas to the region. Officials were first alerted to trouble when the ship activated its emergency locator beacon, but due to the bad weather, rescue operations were not able to get underway for more than a day. Since then, all attempts to hail the missing ship have failed and the emergency beacon stopped transmitting its location. At the time of its disappearance, three crew members were believed to be onboard. Two others were located yesterday, alive and well, on the Antarctic continent itself.

The life raft was said to have a torn canopy and was missing its first aid kid and survival knife. Officials said that there were no indications that it was occupied at any point, so it is impossible to determine if someone used it to escape from a sinking ship or if it simply floated free on its own.

The search for the 14-meter long, steel hulled yacht continues today, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the Berserk, or her remaining crew, will be found alive.

[Photo credit: Barbara Viega]

Missing Antarctic yacht update: two crew members found

Two crew members from the yacht that went missing in the antarctic have been found.Yesterday we posted a story about a Norwegian yacht that went missing in the Antarctic with five crew members aboard. Two of those crew members have now been located, alive and well, on the continent itself, and they are reportedly providing clues that could help search and rescue teams find the missing ship.

When the story first broke, we knew that the yacht, christened the Berserk, was last known to be sailing in the Southern Ocean approximately 18 nautical miles off the coast of Antarctica. The crew had planned to make a brief visit to the continent to drop off two people, who were hoping to make the journey to the South Pole on ATV’s. Apparently that drop off did occur, as Jarle Andhoey, the skipper of the yacht, and an 18-year old crew member, contacted search teams via satellite phone yesterday and have been providing crucial information about the missing ship’s planned route. That information could be instrumental in discovering where the yacht is at this time.

Two days ago the Berserk activated its emergency locator beacon indicating that it was in trouble. At the time, storms were raging across the Southern Ocean, bringing high winds and very rough seas to the region. Those storms prevented rescue operations from commencing for nearly another day, and by the time search and rescue teams were able to enter the area, the emergency beacon was no longer transmitting. All attempts to contact the vessel have been fruitless as well. Three crew members, including two Norwegians and a British national, are believed to have been aboard the Berserk when it went missing.

Search teams are continuing to comb the area today, holding out hope for a miracle. It is possible that the yacht is now adrift without power on the Southern Ocean, simply waiting to be found. But with each passing hour, the chances of finding the boat and her crew grow a bit smaller.

[Photo credit: Berserk Expeditions]

Norwegian yacht goes missing off Antarctica

A yachat carrying five passengers has gone missing off the coast of AntarcticaA Norwegian-flagged yacht known as the Berserk has gone missing off the coast of Antarctica after activating its emergency rescue beacon yesterday. The 14-meter, steel hulled ship was last known to be sailing rough seas in the Southern Ocean approximately 18 nautical miles north of the Scott Research Base and was believed to have been carrying as many as five passengers at the time.

Rescues ships have been dispatched out of New Zealand to look for the missing yacht, but all attempts to contact the crew have failed and the emergency beacon is no longer transmitting its location. Bad weather in the region is hampering rescue efforts as well, with 75 knot winds and 6 to 8 meter swells reported in the vicinity.

The ship is captained by Norwegian sailor Jarle Andhoey who is a seasoned skipper with years of experience under his belt. There were three other Norwegians and a British national on board the Berserk at one point, although two of the passengers may have been dropped off on the Antarctic continent to attempt a journey to the South Pole. Details as to who was exactly aboard the ship at the time of the distress call are still unknown.

Weather conditions are expected to improve later in the day and search planes and helicopters may be employed to help find the missing the vessel. Rescuers are still holding out hope for good news, but considering the poor weather conditions and the loss of the signal from the ship’s beacon, the outlook is a bit grim at this time.

[Photo credit: Berserk Expeditions]