Thursday 22nd Nov, 2018

Antarctic rescue underway

A MEDIVAC operation is underway after a 66-year-old woman from the Netherlands suffered a suspected stroke on the cruise ship Ortelius (IMO 8509181).

According to data from Lloyd’s List Intelligence, the vessel is in the Ross Sea, off Ross Island, some 44 nautical miles (81 kilometres) northeast by east of US Antarctic research centre McMurdo Station.

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) is working with the US Antarctic Programme and Ortelius’ crew to co-ordinate the medivac from the vessel; the ship’s medical staff have recommended that the patient, who is in a stable condition, be taken to New Zealand for further medical treatment via McMurdo Station.

RCCNZ senior search and rescue officer Chris Henshaw said Ortelius would attempt to get as close to McMurdo Station as conditions allow for the woman to be transferred, and if ice prevents the vessel from reaching the base, she will be transferred by the vessel’s helicopter to McMurdo.

From there she is to fly on to New Zealand on a regular scheduled flight.

“Antarctica is one of the world’s harshest environments and every precaution is being taken by all parties to make sure the medevac is successful,” Mr Henshaw said.

“RCCNZ is in touch with the ship, McMurdo Station and government agencies in New Zealand to smooth the way.”

Mr Henshaw said the medevac was expected to happen around midday on Tuesday New Zealand time, with the flight to New Zealand occurring on Wednesday.

“Weather conditions are stable for the medevac, however, RCCNZ will monitor the situation,” he said.

“Everything’s lining up for a successful operation, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation in the hours ahead.”

Ortelius is a Cyprus-flagged cruise ship with a length between perpendiculars of 78 metres. Its extreme breadth is 17.6 metres, draught 5.3 metres and freeboard 5000 mm, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

The vessel was built at Gdynia, Poland in 1989 and can carry 150 passengers.

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