Ocean Nova Runs Aground in Antarctica

February 17, 2009
A Quark Expeditions ship, Ocean Nova, got stuck in craggy rocks in Antartica today. According to the company's statement, all passengers are safe and the ship is not leaking oil or any other hazardous materials into the delicate ecosystem.

Ocean Nova was carrying 65 passengers and 41 crewmembers on a nearly two-week sailing out of Ushuaia, Argentina. On the eighth day of its journey, high winds caused the ship to run aground in Marguerite Bay, about a mile from Argentina's San Martin research base on Antarctica. The ship is in no danger, and passengers are enjoying regularly scheduled lecture programs.

Captain Per Gravesen attempted to dislodge the ship at 1 p.m. local time, but failed to free the vessel. A second attempt will be made during the next high tide at midnight local time, with Spanish naval vessel Hesperides in attendance to assist if necessary. If Ocean Nova does not break free at this time, all passengers will be evacuated onto Clipper Adventurer, another Quark ship in the area, and returned to Ushuaia.

News like this is becoming increasingly common. Already this season (in December), an Argentine cruise ship named Ushuaia ran aground. Last winter, both G.A.P. Adventures' M/S Explorer and Hurtigruten's Fram hit icebergs; M/S Explorer actually sank.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor

--Photo is courtesy of Phil Algar.

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