UPDATE: Polar Star inspection prompts action

An underwater inspection shows the ship is not safe to sail Drake Passage with passengers aboard.

After a detailed underwater inspection on the damaged vessel Polar Star this morning, Polar Star Expeditions announced the 80 passengers on board the vessel will be disembarked at King George Island in what the line says is a “precautionary measure”.

“Following discussions with the captain and DNV officials – Det Norske Veritas, the MV Polar Star’s classification society – the company made the precautionary decision not to cross the Drake Passage with passengers aboard,” an International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators press release says.

Polar Star Expeditions is organising alternative transport on other IAATO vessels for the passengers, including eight Australians, to return to Ushuaia. Meanwhile the vessel will undergo temporary repairs before sailing back to Ushuaia.

According to the IAATO, Polar Star arrived safely at normal cruising speed from Detaille Island to the Polish Arctowski Station in the South Shetland Islands, where divers assessed the damage.