UPDATE: Polar Star hits rock

The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators just released the following statement:

Incident Details:
Vessel: MV Polar Star
Date: January 31, 2011
Incident Location: Reported as S 66° 51.37’ W 66° 47.81’
Time: 1130UTC / 0830 Local Time

Polar Star Expeditions of Halifax, Canada is reporting that the company’s expedition vessel MV Polar struck an un-surveyed rock – reported at S 66° 51.37’ W 66° 47.81’ – while anchoring just north of Detaille Island at the Antarctic Peninsula. The incident occurred at approximately 1130 UTC, or 0830 local time. The MV Polar Star is currently floating free, unassisted in 37 meters of water.

While facts are still being gathered, an initial assessment of damage by Captain Jacek Majer indicates a breech to the outer hull, with the inner hull intact. Reports indicate that the vessel’s emergency response systems have been effective in dealing with the breech.
The relevant Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCC) have been alerted and are assessing the situation. Other IAATO vessels in the vicinity have also been notified.

On board the MV Polar Star are 80 passengers and 35 crew members. Passenger nationalities are 32 American; 9 Canadian; 14 British; I Irish; 8 Australian; 2 New
Zealanders; 3 Dutch; 1 Austrian; 1 German; 1 Swiss; 2 Swedish; 2 Czech; 1 Turkish; 1 Japanese; 2 Taiwanese; Crew nationalities are: 6 Polish; 27 Filipino; 2 American.

All passengers are aware of the situation, and there are no reports of injuries. Current weather reports in the area indicate rain and sleet and temperatures approximately 1°C.

Possible environmental impacts:
The captain reports there is no apparent oil spill outside the ship, but booms have been deployed as a precaution. More details on this will be forthcoming.

Polar Star Expeditions and MV Polar Star
Capacity: 105 passengers, 50 crew
Length: 86.5 meters
Breadth: 21.2 meters
Draft: 6.85 meters
Gross Tons: 4,998
Ice Class: DNV Ice 1A
Registry: Barbados
Classification Society: DNV (Det Norske Veritas)
Year Built: 1969, rebuilt 2000
The Polar Star has been traveling to Antarctica since 2001

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