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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another TITANIC, except for the Grace of God.








The M/S Explorer, a Canadian cruise ship, sank after it hit an iceberg in Antarctic waters, 23 Nov 2007. A Norwegian cruise ship rescued everyone aboard.
Someone is not being completely honest about this cruise ship. A hole the size of a fist will not sink a ship, not even the worse rust bucket. This was a Liberian registered vessel. That means it was registered under a flag of convenience to avoid safety inspections and compliance with the Coast Guard's safety regulations in the USA or England.
The Captain, Bengt Witman, was Swedish. Engineering Officers came from Bulgaria. Some of the crew came from the Phillipines. G.A.P. Adventures, a Canadian, company owned the ship. The G.A.P. owner and CEO is Mr. Bruce Poon Tip, a personal friend of Former Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Poon Tip had invited Vice President Gore and his wife, Tipper Gore, to tour the Antarctica onboard the M/V Explorer. Passengers paid $8,000.00 per person for a cabin, based on double occupancy.
Also, ships are deliberately compartmentalized to prevent them from sinking until more than one-third of the living spaces are completely flooded. Did this ship have water tight compartments? Did it have a double bottomed hull?
My ship, USCGC Glacier (WAGB-4) was punctured while I was onboard but not on watch by the underwater projection of an iceberg which was more than 2 miles away on the surface. Reserve Lieutenant junior grade Bill Pitt was the Deck watch Officer on duty on the Bridge. He violated a Standing Order of Captain E. E. "Gene" McCrory. We were prohibited from coming closer than 5 miles from an iceberg that we could see on the surface because the underwater projections could go for miles in any direction.
Multi-year pack ice is so hard that a bergie bit made of multi-year pack ice can cut through a steel reinforced hull like a hot knife through warm butter.
This iceberg was made of multi-year blue pack ice that is almost as hard as a diamond on the Moe Scale, and it ripped open a fuel tank and we lost over 10,000 gallons of fuel. And it flooded an engine room. We had free-communications with the sea; but, we dogged the hatch to that compartment and experienced no danger of capsizing or sinking. Ships are designed that way.
It is hard to sink a ship. A hole the size of a fist would not sink a ship. Even if you do not seal off the compartment, a standard bilge pump could easily pump out the volume of sea water entering through the fist size hole.
Was the M/S Explorer equipprd with bilge pumps? Were they working? What was the pumping capacity of one of the bilge pumps? Even the smallest bilge pump would be capable of pumping out the amount of sea water that could be expected to enter the ship through a hole the size of a man's fist.
Moreover, most ships have double bottoms. The iceberg would have to be shaped like a battering ram to penetrate both bulkheads and flood the compartment. Even then, because of the compartmentilization of the ship she would not sink. Even if disabled, and badly listing to one side, the ship would stay afloat indefinitely. It would not sink.
The Chilean navy said the entire MS Explorer finally slipped beneath the waves Friday evening, 23 November 2007, about 20 hours after the predawn accident near Antarctica's South Shetland Islands. It took less than a day to sink. A properly maintained seaworthy ship with compartmentalization would stay afloat indefinitely. It would be virtually unsinkable. The EXPLORER was unseaworthy. It was a death trap. Only by the grace of God did we avoid a second TITANIC. It is a wonder still that not one of the senior citizen passengers died from exposure to the Antarctic elements.
Most of the body's heat escapes through the top of the head. In Antarctic Survival Courses they teach that the most important part of the body to cover is the head. One can quickly die of hyperthermia if exposed to the elements without a hat. The water temperature was 2 degrees (Centigrade) or 34 Degrees (Fahrenheit). The ambient air temperature was probably close to that. If there was any wind at all, the added chill factor would quickly strip the body of bodyheat. If passengers were rushed to life boats without coats or hats, and then floated in the open Antarctic Ocean for 6 hours or more, it is a small miracle that no one died.

COUNTDOWN TO A CASTROPHE.
A TIMELINE TO A TRAGEDY.


M/V Explorer launched 1969.
Sank in Antarctica 23 Nov 2007.
About 2400hrs (Midnight) 22 Nov M/V Explorer hit an iceberg or bergie bit causing fist-sized hole in hull.
About 0015 hrs 23 Nov ship hit an ice floe causing a crack in the hull spanning several compartments. This was the second collision. This was most likely a stress fracture. If you apply pressure on an area of the hull under great stress, it will crack like an egg shell. In such a case the hull and the bulkheads will open up like a ripe watermellon.

About 0030 hrs M/V Explorer made International Distress Call. (MayDay, MayDay) An Argentine Rescue and Command Center picked up the distress call amid reports the ship was taking on water despite efforts to use onboard pumps. (This was according to Capt. Juan Pablo Panichini, an Argentine navy spokesman.)


0230 hrs Flooding shorts-out all electrical power.
0300 hrs 23 Nov Captain, Bengt Witman, gives order to abandon ship. All 91 passengers take to life boats, and 13 Officers remain onboard with the Capt.
0500 hrs
Captain and 13 officers abandon ship.
1100 hrs M/V Nordnorge begins rescuing passengers from the water.
Water temperature is 33 Degrees (Fahrenheit), or 2 Degrees (Centigrade). Water freezes at 32 Degrees Fahrenheit.
2000 hrs (800 PM) 23 November 2007 M/V Explorer sinks beneath the frigid waters with thousands of gallons of fuel and oil. The first Antarctic ecological tragedy.

The Guardian reported that inspections this year found 11 deficiencies
in the ship, including missing search-and-rescue plans and
lifeboat-maintenance problems. Lloyd's List reported the Explorer had
five deficiencies in its last inspection in May, including watertight
doors that were not as required.

Andrea Salas, a guide on the cruise which had left Ushuaia in her native Argentina 12 days earlier, said: “I was in the ship’s bar having a drink with colleagues and some passengers when two passengers from the cabins below came in shouting, ‘There’s water, there’s water!’ ”

Crewmen struggled for an hour to strip walling and insulation from the cabin to reach the foot-wide hole but water poured down a 2in-wide scupper pipe used to remove condensation from the cabin. It flooded the engines below and there was a power cut, knocking out the bilge pumps which had been clearing the water from the hull.

Peter Svensson, the Explorer’s first officer, said: “In the water we tried to cover the hole — we managed it at first but then we got a small blackout and the water started coming in more.”

As the Explorer began to list at 25 degrees, an order was given to abandon ship.

Raymond King, 67, on holiday from Belfast, said: “It was pretty horrific. It was wet, it was cold, it was scary. I’ve got the clothes I am wearing, my watch, my camera and that’s it.”


The M/S Explorer sank within 20 hours of hitting the ice floe. That can mean only one thing. The ship was not seaworthy. It was unsafe and had no business carrying passengers for hire. It was a liability.
Someone is trying to limit their liability with these false stories about a hole the size of a fist, and othersuch nonsense.
The Norwegian vessel, Nordnorge, picked up 154 people - all the passengers and crew of the cruise ship M/S Explorer. It supposedly hit an ice floe before dawn on Friday and immediately began taking on water. There were 13 American tourists onboard. Incidents of this nature are sure to become more common in the Arctic as global warming makes the Northwest Passage more accessible.

Captain Bengt Witman gave the order to abandon ship after the Canadian ship began listing sharply to starboard. This was only 2 hours after the collision. Everyone boarded lifeboats and inflatable rafts. Only one in four life boats had an motor that would start. That means that 75 percent of the life boats were defective. If he had waited a mere ten minutes more to give the order to abandon ship, all the life boats on the starboard side would have been under water. That means half the life boats would have been unavailable. Was the one life boat with a working engine on the starboard side? A rare calm in Antarctic seas and the swift response of a passing ship helped save all aboard. If the seas had been rough, and the life boats had had no engine power and no manueverability, and some of the passengers were not properly dressed, then we would be looking at a major tragedy; ie, a Second Titanic.

One passenger described it this way, "We huddled together and tried to comfort each other and stay warm.We were drifting because out of four lifeboats, only one had an engine that worked. The greatest sight was when a helicopter came over."

The passengers huddled together for warmth as they floated for five hours in sub-zero temperatures in the frozen wastes of the Antarctic ocean, not knowing when they would be rescued.

At one point the flooded engines of the Explorer roared back into life and the vessel, by now listing at 45 degrees, began to churn the water as it moved backwards in a circular motion perilously close to the survivors' lifeboats.

The 2,400-ton vessel’s Mayday messages were picked up by two other liners, the Nordnorge and the Endeavour, and by a Brazilian warship. They took five hours to reach the scene as a Chilean navy helicopter hovered overhead and coastguards from Falmouth in Cornwall co-ordinated the rescue with their counterparts in Argentina and the United States.


The captain of the Norwegian ship said the passengers and crew were cold and wet but in good condition despite spending four hours in icy, windswept seas off the South Shetland Islands. By Friday evening, several hours after the rescue operation was complete, the stricken Explorer disappeared beneath the Antarctic waves.

The rescue ship landed the Explorer's crew and passengers on nearby King George Island, despite delays caused by high winds and seas. They stayed at Chilean and Uruguayan military stations on the island, and were flown to Punta Arenas on the Chilean mainland as soon as weather conditions permited.

A Canadian adventure company, G.A.P. Adventures, owned the sunken vessel, which had been on a 19-day tour of the Antarctic and the Falklands. Passengers paid 4,000 British Pound Sterling each for the tour.
American Ely Chang of Urban, Calif. was among the first to get out of a Chilean Hercules C-130 in Punta Arenas, clutching his life jacket like a precious souvenir and reminder of anxious hours spent adrift.
"It was very cold but I'm so happy because we all survived this and everyone's all right. Now I'm going home," he said.
Dutch citizen Jan Henkel said he decided to propose to his girlfriend Mette Larsen after they survived the ordeal.
"There were some very frightening moments but the crew was very professional and the captain very good and had everything under control," said Henkel.
Others in Antarctica counted the survivors lucky.
"They were fortunate because other ships just happened to be in the area and came to their aid rapidly," said Lieutenant Col. Waldemar Fontes, chief of the small Uruguayan base where the rescued tourists and crew took shelter overnight. "The seas were calm and there weren't any storms. That doesn't happen often in Antarctica."















There were 154 people aboard the ship, including 91 passengers from 14 countries. Twenty-three British passengers dominated the list, followed by 17 Dutch, 13 Americans and 10 Canadians. The passengers came from more than a dozen countries, including Britain, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada and Australia. They were all evacuated to Punta Arenas, Chile.





An Argentine rescue and command center first received a distress call from the Explorer at 12:30 a.m. EST (0430 GMT) Friday, 23 November 2007 amid reports the ship was taking on water despite efforts to use onboard pumps, said Capt. Juan Pablo Panichini, an Argentine navy spokesman.

Bob Flood, 52, a scientific journal editor and ornithologist from the Scilly Isles who had joined the £4,000-a-head cruise to give lectures about birds such as the albatross and the storm petrel, said: “We didn’t panic because we knew there must be other cruise ships in the area. The bizarre thing was that people began to tell Titanic jokes.”


Capt. Arnvid Hansen, whose cruise ship Nordnorge rescued the castaways, said Explorer's distress call came hours before dawn and he steamed 4 1/2 hours "full ahead" to the rescue before weather could close in.
"We have to work together with the forces of nature, not against them," Hansen said.
He said blinding sleet, fog, high winds and treacherous seas are common in Antarctica, Earth's windiest continent, even in the October-to-April "summer" when cruise ships flock to the area by the dozens.
"I've been a captain for four seasons in Antarctica," Hansen said. "It's not dangerous but sometimes it's tricky and it's a challenge."
Hansen said calm seas and benevolently light winds prevailed as his crew took just an hour to collect the 154 passengers and crew, rounding up their lifeboats and rubber rafts as the crippled Explorer listed every more steeply to starboard, its hull gashed.
High seas would have made picking up the lifeboats much trickier and would have exposed the castaways to brutally cold weather and the chance of hyperthermia.
Shortly after the rescue though, winds began picking up considerably. After midday, when he reached a Chilean base at King George Island nearby, the winds and waters were so rough the captain had to wait hours to unload the passengers.
"The weather can change in a half hour in Antarctica and you never know if we are going to have it very good one moment or very bad," Hansen said.

The Nordnorge used its own lifeboat as a “lift”, lowering and raising it to bring the 91 passengers, nine expedition staff and 54 crew of the Explorer aboard 10 at a time from their four lifeboats and eight dinghies.

The operation took half an hour. Three of the passengers were suffering from hypothermia and had to be clad in thermal blankets and fed hot drinks until they recovered.

Jerry DeCosta, vacationing on the Explorer said "Everything was done right: The captain got everybody off and the weather was ideal. It was a fluke of nature and luckily we got out," he said, marveling at Nordnorge's swift response. "We sent out a distress call and people came to help."

Guillermo Tarapow, captain of an Argentine navy icebreaker, Almirante Irizar, that caught fire last April 10 off Patagonia while returning from Antarctica, said he thought the dangers of castoff Antarctic ice to shipping were on the rise.
Tarapow, who saved his stricken ship from sinking and won praise for safely evacuating his 296 passengers, said he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of icebergs over 20 years and blamed climate change.
"You now see many more icebergs ... where there didn't use to be. It makes navigation difficult and they are all very dangerous," Tarapow said.


Less than a year ago, M.S. Nordnorge was involved in another Antarctic rescue. The Norwegian cruise ship evacuated 294 passengers after another ship from the same cruise company, M.S. Nordkapp, ran aground on a remote Antarctic island. The Nordkapp was later refloated.

Lt.-Col. Waldemar Fontes, chief of the Uruguayan base where some of the rescued tourists and crew took shelter, on 24 November said "We would tell them: 'You're shipwreck victims.' They'd say they wanted to stay. They were having fun."
The attitude may seem strange, he said, but the passengers had reason to be happy.
"If the storm that kept them from disembarking (the Norwegian ship that rescued them) had hit while they were on the lifeboats, it's quite possible many of them wouldn't have survived. "It's that harsh, really. They were very lucky."

The British luxury passenger liner Titanic sank on April 14-15, 1912, en route to New York City from Southampton, Eng., during its maiden voyage. The vessel sank with a loss of about 1,500 lives at a point about 400 miles (640 km) south of Newfoundland.

The great ship, at that time the largest and most luxurious afloat, was designed and built by William Pirrie's Belfast firm Harland and Wolff to service the highly competitive Atlantic Ferry route. It had a double-bottomed hull that was divided into 16 presumably watertight compartments. Because four of these could be flooded without endangering the liner's buoyancy, it was considered unsinkable. Shortly before midnight on April 14, the ship collided with an iceberg; five of its watertight compartments were ruptured, causing the ship to sink at 2:20 AM April 15. Inquiries held in the United States and Great Britain alleged that the Leyland liner Californian, which was less than 20 miles (32 km) away all night, could have aided the stricken vessel had its radio operator been on duty and thereby received the Titanic's distress signals. Only the arrival of the Cunard liner Carpathia 1 hour and 20 minutes after the Titanic went down prevented further loss of life in the icy waters.

Many of those who perished on the ship came from prominent American, British, and European families. Among the dead were the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus and Astor fortunes. The glamour associated with the ship, its maiden voyage, and its notable passengers magnified the tragedy of its sinking in the popular mind. Legends arose almost immediately around the night's events, those who had died, and those who had survived. Heroes and heroines, such as American Molly Brown, were identified and celebrated by the press. The disaster and the mythology that has surrounded it have continued to fascinate millions.

As a result of the disaster, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was called in London in 1913. The convention drew up rules requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person embarked (the Titanic had only 1,178 boat spaces for the 2,224 persons aboard); that lifeboat drills be held during each voyage; and, because the Californian had not heard the distress signals of the Titanic, that ships maintain a 24-hour radio watch. The International Ice Patrol also was established to warn ships of icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes.

On Sept. 1, 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright in two pieces on the ocean floor at a depth of about 4,000 m (about 13,000 feet). The ship, located at about 41° 46' N 50° 14' W, was subsequently explored several times by manned and unmanned submersibles under the direction of American and French scientists. The expeditions found no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship's hull by the iceberg. The scientists posited instead that the collision's impact had produced a series of thin gashes as well as brittle fracturing and separation of seams in the adjacent hull plates, thus allowing water to flood in and sink the ship. In subsequent years marine salvagers raised small artifacts and even a 20-ton piece of the hull from the wreckage.

BACK TO THE FUTURE:




Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the Titanic disaster,
seen here in 2002, is auctioning mementoes from the doomed liner to
pay for her nursing home fees.



This is a Friday, April 17, 1998 file photo of Millvina Dean, 86, a
living Titanic survivor, as she looks up and smiles as she signs a
Titanic movie poster for an enthusiast at the Titanic Historical
Society's convention in Springfield, Mass. As a 2-month-old baby,
Millvina Dean was wrapped in a sack and lowered into a lifeboat from
the deck of the sinking RMS Titanic. Now Dean, the last living
survivor of the disaster, is selling some of her mementos to help pay
her nursing home fees. Dean's artifacts, including a suitcase given to
her family by the people of New York after their rescue, are expected
to sell for about 3,000 pounds (US$5,200) at Saturday's auction in
Devizes, western England. Dean, 96, has lived in a nursing home in the
southern English city of Southampton Titanic's home port since she
broke her hip two years ago.


Commander P.H. Nargeolet walks away from the M.V. Royal Majesty with
Millvina Dean, 84, of England at the Black Falcon Pier in Boston in
this September 1, 1996 file photo. Dean, a surviver of the Titanic
disaster was on board the Royal Majesty when it sailed to the site
where the Titanic's maiden voyage ended 84 years ago and watched as
research vessels tried to raise part of its hull to the surface.
Although a cable snaped sending the hull plunging down to the ocean's
floor, Dean was thrilled to be there.

Labels:

26 Comments:

Blogger ichbinalj said...

Well it certainly is not like the Titanic, no Celine DIon music playing on deck while the Explorer sank, but it is more likely when the local ecology strikes back at rubbernecking intruders in Antarctic waters, one can assume to the amusement of the thousands of curious penguins standing in formation along ice floes watching with interest and who for once have something to look at, instead of the other way around, which could have had disasterous results if not for a passing ship.

11:21 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Guardian reported that inspections this year found 11 deficiencies
in the ship, including missing search-and-rescue plans and
lifeboat-maintenance problems. Lloyd's List reported the Explorer had five deficiencies in its last inspection in May, including watertight doors that were not as required.

11:22 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Explorer was launched in 1969 under the name Lindblad Explorer. It was the first ship built specifically to ferry tourists to Antarctica. When it disappeared beneath the polar region’s waters 23 November 2007, it became the first commercial passenger ship to sink there.
Relatively calm seas, the slow pace of the Explorer’s sinking and its proximity to other ships and military rescue forces all helped ensure that the episode was not a disaster, at least in human terms. The passengers and crew members evacuated from the Explorer were airlifted from Antarctica to Punta Arenas, Chile.

7:40 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

While not an icebreaker — a hull design impractical for passenger ships — the Explorer was specially reinforced to withstand blows from ice.
The ship’s owner, G.A.P.Adventures of Toronto says it was certified at the highest rating given by Finland and Sweden for non-icebreakers. If its hull was breached, watertight compartments were supposed to contain the water and allow it to remain afloat.
While the Explorer was designed to withstand the flooding of just one compartment, any leakage of water into adjoining compartments, would be sufficient to sink the ship.

G.A.P. initially attributed the sinking to a fist-size hole in the hull created by ice. But in an e-mail message on Sunday, Susan Hayes, its vice president of marketing, said that there was also a crack that, like the hole, could not be effectively sealed by the crew. It was not clear if the crack spanned compartments.

7:47 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Chilean navy said the entire MS Explorer finally slipped beneath the waves Friday evening, 23 November 2007, about 20 hours after the predawn accident near Antarctica's South Shetland Islands. It took less than a day to sink. A properly maintained seaworthy ship with compartmentalization would stay afloat indefinitely. It would be virtually unsinkable. The EXPLORER was unseaworthy. It was a death trap. Only by the grace of God did we avoid a second TITANIC. It is a wonder still that none of the senior citizen passengers did not die from exposure to the Antarctic elements.

10:58 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

How much heavy fuel oil do you suppose was on the late MV Explorer? What will that do to the wildlife?
Judi McLeod of Canada Free Press has the scoop on information the MSM is desperate to avoid reporting. It seems that a friend Al Gore in the business of taking wealthy eco-warriors on tours uses a ship (at this point, a former ship) with a history of inspection problems, and that ship sank last Friday, depositing quite a carbon footprint at the bottom of the ocean.
G.A.P. Adventures CEO and Explorer owner, Bruce Poon Tip and Former Vice President Albert Gore have similar ideals, "filling their schedules with speaking engagements on environmental change to educate global audiences." And that's straight off of http://www.gapadventures.com/. In fact, as recently as last April, both Poon Tip and Gore gave presentations at the Green Living Show in Toronto.

11:38 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Maintenance and safety problems never kept the MS Explorer from setting out for the Antarctica two weeks ago.
The legendary polar expedition ship..."had at least five faults at its last inspection," according to Greenpeace spokeswoman Bunny McDiarmid. "Maritime records show the MV Explorer has completed more than 40 cruises to the ice, but has lately been suffering maintenance and safety problems."
In fact, as recently as last April, both Poon Tip and Gore gave presentations at the Green Living Show in Toronto.
"I expressed my admiration for Mr. Gore's commitment and leadership which spans more than 20 years," commented Poon Tip. "I also invited him aboard our legendary polar expedition ship, the MS Explorer to visit the Arctic."

11:39 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Good thing Al Gore and his wife Tipper was otherwise occupied when 154 passengers and crew had to be rescued at sea when their eco-cruise ship struck ice in the Antarctic Ocean and started to sink early Friday morning. (None of the eco warriors aboard MS Explorer were identified in weekend media coverage)
This looks like another case of wealthy and connected people exempting themselves from the sort of strictures they would impose on everyone else, much like the private jet-flying elites who will be unable to find parking spots for their luxury birds at Denpassar Airport in Bali when the UN climate change summit is held at a luxury resort there. They will be spewing carbon when ferried to alternative airports (not to mention all the carbon burned flying in from New York, Hollywood, Geneva, and other spots.


It all fits together perfectly once you realize that these wealthy and connected people have no intention of giving up anything personally, while demanding that the rest of us sacrifice jobs, cars, and personal comfort in pursuit of their goal of theorectical ecological redemption.

11:41 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Mic Simpson, 70, said he was woken by a 'sharp metal tearing sound' as he lay in bed on the ship.

The ex-merchant navy cook was among 154 tourists and crew on the 2,400-ton ship when it hit an iceberg and sank north of Antarctica.

He said: "The water poured in and was freezing cold. There had been a lot of banging through the night. I didn't think it was anything to worry about until my nephew said, 'I think I can hear water running'.

"We turned on the light and the floor was wet. Water was gushing in at an alarming rate.

"Next minute the water was up to the level of the bed and was soaking through the mattress."

Mr Simpson said: "After three hours they told us to abandon ship.

It was listing and getting worse and worse. I could feel it going. We took to the lifeboats and were there for five hours. It was cold and wet.

"We huddled together and tried to comfort each other and stay warm.We were drifting because out of four lifeboats, only one had an engine that worked. The greatest sight was when a helicopter came over."

11:47 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Eli Charne, 38, of California, was shaking with emotion talking about his close call.

"I thought the ship was going down," Charne said of the moments after he felt the ship hit the ice.

"We were on the lowest deck of the ship, so we rushed out of the room and pressed the emergency button as water rushed in," he recalled.

"I'm so relieved. I'm happy that everyone made it off the ship, because it could have been a big disaster," he said, wearing borrowed clothing and carrying a life jacket. "I'm just really glad to be around."

12:09 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Naturalist Colin Baird was one of two Canadian expedition leaders on the M/V Explorer. Baird, 41, had been working on the expeditionary liner, guiding tourists on Zodiacs to see the area's whales, king penguin colonies and albatrosses.

He lived on the ship during the winter.
"He is a little bit in shock and despondent about [losing] everything he owns," his twin brother, Neil Baird, said.
"He says you wouldn't believe the feeling of having to abandon ship and jump into a life raft and watch this big ship just list over and sink while you're bobbing around in a lifeboat."

12:12 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Taylor Echlin, 58, an investment counsellor, was thrilled when he boarded the cruise liner Nordnorge off the coast of Chile on Nov. 13.
He watched as the crew of the Nordnorge rescued passengers and crew from the sinking cruise ship Explorer, which had hit an iceberg.
The Nordnorge, with 300 passengers aboard, was a day away from Cape Horn when news broke of the nearby sinking. The Nordnorge captain quickly changed plans.
Echlin said some rescued passengers weren't wearing survival gear because they were told to get into lifeboats in a hurry.
Once water started flowing onto the ship's decks, they weren't allowed to go back to their cabins. Soon, they were filing into lifeboats. They were wet, cold and upset.

"The crew had trouble lowering the lifeboats -- as the electricity had now gone out," Echlin wrote after talking to the rescued passengers. "Water filled deck three to the top of the stairway."

Passengers also told him that only one lifeboat's engine could be started -- the rest were dead in the water.

"The lifeboats were old -- and they were open -- certainly not up to the standards of today's totally enclosed lifeboats, which resemble space capsules," Echlin said.

12:19 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The two Bulgarian nationals, Stanko Mihalev and his wife Svetlana, were among the crew members aboard the ship that sank after hitting an iceberg off Antarctica.
Mihalev, a senior maintenance technician of the cruiser made news as one of the heroic officers, who stayed behind together with the captain of the Explorer trying to pump out water while the other passengers were abandoning the ship.
Aboard were 17 Dutch, 13 Americans and 10 Canadians as well as Irish, Danish, Swiss, Belgian, Japanese, French, German and Chinese nationals.

12:22 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Bulgarians, Stanko and Svetlana Mihalev, were born in the seaside town of Aitos. They live in Burgas with their two sons.
They said that the determinant factor for the saving all passengers on the board was intolerable panic. The captain decided the precise time when the saving boats had to be let down.
The first hit with iceberg on the Canadian tourist ship ‘Explorer' was followed by second, lighter hit, said first mechanic Stanko Mihalev.
Firstly we thought it wasn't something serious, but soon we understood what's going on, shared the first mechanic.

The hole from the first iceberg was in the section with passengers' cabins.

The flood brought cutting of electricity and for about 20-30 minutes the ship sunk in darkness. The water temperature was 2 degrees centigrade.

The crew left the ship three hours after the passengers. Stanko Mihalev left last along with the captain.

12:29 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"Thank God, all passengers are safe! I am proud to say that not a single person got hurt or frozen," said Stanko Mihalev. He said the hit occurred close to midnight on Thursday local time (5 am Bulgarian time). It was not very strong and punched a hole into Explorer's hull not bigger than a fist, but the water was coming in quickly.

Two hours after the collision, the captain gave the order all passengers and crew members to abandon the ship, fearing it will sink.

"The decision came just in time. Were we ten minutes late, the life boats on one side of the board would have been hard to reach," the Bulgarian recalls.

"That's the reason why we prevented a repeat of the Titanic tragedy."

Mihalev is one of the last thirteen members of the crew who stayed behind together with the captain.

"It was very touching to see the people's gratitude in their eyes. It was only after the rescue operation ended that I realized the passengers were truly impressed by our actions. For me this is just part of the job," says Mihalev.

12:31 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

The Explorer's Swedish captain, Bengt Witman, was quoted by media as saying that when he felt the ship knock into the iceberg, he at first thought it had hit a whale.

"There was wind, and it was very cold, and we were wet because of the waves," crew member Andrea Salas, 38, told Argentina's radio Continental.

12:34 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

"I was also amused to read the related statement by Susan Hayes, of G.A.P. Adventures (operator of the ship at the time), in which she mentioned that “This has never happened to us.” said J.G.Nash who is a widely traveled journalist and photographer, currently based in west-central Florida. Well, golly gee, could it really have been possible for a ship to have previously sunk? Although past, related incidents may not have taken place while the adventure vessel was being operated for G.A.P., the M/V Explorer has had a history of near disasters: In December 1971, it was grounded on rocks in the Gerlache Strait, requiring rescue of the passengers by the Chilean Navy.
A few months later, it went aground again, this time in Admiralty Bay, by King George Island. Then again, in December 1979, it hit the rocks off Weinche Island. So, Hayes' public display of surprise at the ship's collision with another immovable object is naïve, at best. It operated in dangerous waters, which are part of that “adventure-travel” label.
God rest the Explorer, and its creator, Lars Lindblad, who passed on to his reward some 14 years ago.

12:42 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

G.A.P Adventures spokeswoman Susan Hayes told CNN the vessel "didn't hit an iceberg, it hit some ice. ... There are ice floes, but it didn't hit a huge iceberg."

The Explorer usually made two-week cruises around the Antarctic at a cost of some $8,000 (4,000 pounds) a cabin.

Smaller than most cruise ships, it was able to enter narrower bays off the continent and scientists were on board to brief passengers on the region's geology and climate change, the spokesman added.

King George Island lies about 700 miles (1,127 km) south of Cape Horn, the tip of South America, and is the largest of the South Shetland islands.

Cruise trip travel has grown in Antarctica in recent years and Pedro Tuhay, of the Argentine coast guard, told local radio that 52 cruises were expected at the southern port of Ushuaia during this year's peak season from October to April.

12:47 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

A PRIEST from Prestwich, forced to abandon a sinking cruise ship, has told his father: "I'm safe and well".

The Rev Bryan Hackett, aged 41, of St Mary's Church, in Church Lane, was on an Antarctic holiday of a lifetime to celebrate his 40th birthday when the M/S Explorer hit an iceberg.

Mr Hackett, who was previously priest at St Mary's in Radcliffe between 1997 and 2003, was among 24 Britons forced to take to lifeboats before being rescued.

12:51 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

COUNTDOWN TO CASTROPHE. A TIMELINE TO A TRAGEDY.
M/V Explorer launched 1969.
Sank in Antarctica 23 Nov 2007.
About 2400hrs (Midnight) 22 Nov ship hit an iceberg or bergie bit causing fist-sized hole in hull.
About 0015 Hrs 23 Nov ship hit an ice floe causing a crack in the hull spanning several compartments.
0230 Flooding shorts-out all electrical power.
0300 Hrs 23 Nov Capt gives order to abandon ship. All 91 passengers take to life boats, and 13 Officers remain onboard with Capt..
0500 Hrs Capt and 13 officers abandon ship.
1100 Hrs M/V Nordnorge begins rescuing passengerd from the water.
Water temperature is 33 Degrees (Fahrenheit), or 2 Degrees (Centigrade). Water freezes at 32 Degrees Fahrenheit.
2000 Hrs (800 PM) M/V Explorer sinks beneath the frigid waters with thousands of gallons of fuel and oil. The first Antarctic ecological tragedy.

10:12 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

G.A.P. Adventures is the largest adventure travel company in Canada and a leader in socially and environmentally sensitive travel. In 1990, Bruce Poon Tip launched G.A.P Adventures with the belief that other travelers would share his desire to experience authentic adventures in the real world. Today, the company has grown from a one-man show to over 400 employees worldwide. It offers more than 1000 adventure tours to over 100 countries on all 7 continents. Over 60,000 passengers[1] travel on small group adventures with G.A.P every year. In 2007, G.A.P Adventures was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, as published in Maclean's magazine, the only travel arrangement company to receive this honour.
On the 23 November 2007 the M/S Explorer, a cruise ship owned by G.A.P Adventures, sank in the waters off The South Shetland Islands in the Southern Ocean.

11:57 AM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Bruce grew up in Trinidad of Chinese parents and his family came to Canada when he was 4 years old. He grew up in Calgary where his father owned and ran some gas stations.
When he was 12 years old he had 2 newspaper routes with 2 different newspapers and subcontracted both of them to younger kids.
At 16 years old he had his first job at Denny’s and was fired shortly after for his 'attitude'. The same thing happened at his next job at McDonald’s when he was fired during the training program.
When Bruce was 21 years old, he moved to Toronto to start a business.
In 2002, G.A.P Adventures doubled in size by making its first acquisition of Canada's largest flight consolidator to Latin America, Global Connections. Today G.A.P is able to offer highly competitive air travel in addition to its adventure tours.
In 2003, G.A.P Adventures embarked on its next entrepreneurial adventure when it launched the "Great Adventure TV Series", a TV program that brings the small group adventure travel experience to life. This show has been picked up by CTV Travel and soon will be featured on the UK Travel Channel.

Another landmark event happened in 2004 when G.A.P Adventures decided to purchase the "Explorer", the world's first purpose-built expedition cruise ship.

12:00 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Bruce Poon Tip, the founder and President of Great Adventure People (G.A.P.) Adventures has seen nature-based tourism grow almost exponentially over the last 15 years. During that time, G.A.P. has grown into a thriving $100 million dollar business, offering nature-based adventures and trips worldwide. Poon Tip cites a strong demand for education through adventure.
“It’s amazing, people are always wanting more,” says G.A.P. Adventures founder, Bruce Poon Tip. “ They’re into lifelong learning. They’re into seeing and experiencing something unique and then coming back energized for work in a different way.”

In 2000, Barbara Walters from "20/20" was producing a special feature story on unusual weddings and requested to cover Bruce's wedding in the Amazon. When the producers wanted to portray him as an American, Bruce did not cooperate and said he would not lie to the audience. They threatened to pull his story, but Bruce stuck to his guns. In the end 20/20 never aired the piece.
Interestingly enough, his story aired anyway when Diane Sawyer from Primetime found his footage and decided to air it after all. Bruce sees that as an example of karma.

12:02 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Millvina Dean, the last remaining survivor of the Titanic disaster,
is auctioning mementoes from the doomed liner to pay for her nursing home fees.
On April 17, 1998 Millvina Dean, 86, a last living Titanic survivor was signing a Titanic movie poster for an enthusiast at the Titanic Historical Society's convention in Springfield, Mass.
As a 2-month-old baby,
Millvina Dean was wrapped in a sack and lowered into a lifeboat from the deck of the sinking RMS Titanic. Now Dean, the last living
survivor of the disaster, is selling some of her mementos to help pay her nursing home fees. Dean's artifacts, including a suitcase given to her family by the people of New York after their rescue, are expected to sell for about 3,000 pounds (US$5,200) at Saturday's auction in
Devizes, western England.
Dean, 96, has lived in a nursing home in the southern English city of Southampton Titanic's home port since she broke her hip two years ago.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Eli said...

It's almost a year since the Explorer sank. I've given a number of interviews about what it was like and how we first discovered the leak.

I'm now putting my own account of it online. In case there is still interest in this, you can read my blog about it at www.photobits.com/blog

Regards,

Eli Charne

11:44 PM  
Blogger ichbinalj said...

Dear Eli,
Thank you for gracing my account with your comments. I am a dedicated Antarctic sailor and explorer. I was there working for the U S Coast Guard and the United States Antarctic Research Project Scientists.
I developed a great love and a healthy respect for the natural wonders that I observed there. Given another time and another place I would have been one of your shipmates on your cruise.
Because my heart is still there, I could not help but do my best to reconstruct your exploits and adventures on the fateful trip. My account is a compilation of the available news reports at the time. I look forward to being able to read a first hand account.
Rest assured I will spend some quality time reading your firsthand account.
You are a lucky man. God was with you as surely as he was with Jonah on his trip to Joppa when he took a detour through the belly of a whale.
You and I are now members of a very exclusive club. I thank God I am alive to recount it.
Continuous blessings,
ichbinalj

12:20 PM  

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