St Helena Online

Tag: Grytviken

St Helena cruise passengers stranded in the cold

Tour ship Plancius with an ice cliff behind
Plancius was meant to be headed for the tropics (picture: Inezia Tours / Pieter van den Luit)

A tourist ship that was meant to be headed for St Helena and her sister islands is stranded instead at South Georgia, waiting for rescue.

Another vessel has left Ushuaia in Argentina to take off the 73 passengers and some of the expedition staff and crew of the MV Plancius. “There is no threat to life or environment,” said a statement from the owners.

The ship’s main propulsion system malfuntioned, leaving it with reduced power.

The web promotion for the 39-day Atlantic Odyssey said it offered “a unique possibility to visit several of the remotest islands in the world.

“Besides the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia and the South Orkney Islands, the Atlantic Odyssey visits Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, Ascension Island and Cape Verde. Isolated local communities can be visited.”

A statement from Oceanwide Expeditions said: “The spirit on board is – given the circumstances – good  and passengers indulge in local walks and an excursion programme organized by expedition staff.

“The ship has only very limited sailing capabilities (maximum 4-5 knots in calm conditions), which means the vessel will not be able maintain course in rough seas of the open ocean.”

A tug is due to reach the Plancius at Grytviken on 17 April 2012 and tow it to South America if it cannot be repaired in-situ. The ship is sheltered in safe position resting alongside the jetty of King Edward Point Research Station in the British overseas territory.

Passengers were meant to finish their cruise at the Cape Verde islands in early May. Instead, they will be taken to Montevideo in Uruguay, ending their holiday more than a week early.


Look on the bright side – they’re not short of ice for the drinks!

– Amy DuPrez, via Facebook

Oceanwide Expeditions: updates

HMS Montrose continues islands tour

HMS Montrose is nearing the end of a six-month deployment to  all the British overseas territories in the South Atlantic, following a season of anti-piracy action in the Indian Ocean.

Navy News has an impressive picture of the type-23 frigate approaching Gough Island, photographed from the air. See it on the Navy News website.

HMS Dauntless is due to take over the routine South Atlantic tour – though Argentina has interpreted the deployment of the Type 45 destroyer as military aggression.

HMS Montrose has already visited Ascension, St Helena, the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Its mission statement says: ‘The Atlantic Patrol Task (South) ship provides reassurance to UK overseas territories, Commonwealth countries and other friendly nations in the South Atlantic, and acts as a deterrent to potential aggressors who may wish to threaten UK nations, territory or interests.

‘The ship is responsible for maintaining British sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, including South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.’

A report from the ship for Navy News says HMS Montrose is thought to be the first Royal Navy vessel to visit Gough Island in the past decade.

The island, 230 miles from Tristan da Cunha, is a World Heritage Site, breeding ground for ‘almost the entire world population of Tristan albatross and Atlantic petrel – all of which were very much in evidence when Montrose launched her Lynx helicopter to conduct an airborne reconnaissance and fisheries patrol of the island’s waters.’

Gough – named after a Naval captain who visited in 1731 – is temporary home to six members of the South African Weather Service, and two staff of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Commander Jonathan Lett of HMS Montrose tells Navy News: ‘Just as with our visits to Ascension, St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands earlier in the deployment, it has been a real privilege to visit one of the most isolated British South Atlantic Overseas Territories as part of our mission in the region.’

On South Georgia, ship’s crew went ashore at Grytviken on December 16 and dealt with recent ordnance finds, including a two-inch mortar and two rifle grenades. See a spectacular picture here.

The ship sailed for the South Sandwich Islands the following day, patrolling down the remote island chain until prevented from going further south by ice.

HMS Montrose has a complement of 185 officers and ratings and is equipped with the latest weapons, sensors and communications systems, including the vertical-launch Sea Wolf missile system for close air defence, a 4.5-inch (114mm) gun, anti-submarine torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles and a Lynx helicopter.


HMS Montrose

Ice and explosives: South Georgia and the South Sandwich islands

HMS Montrose intercepts pirates – 2010

Flying dentist joins crew in South Atlantic

HMS Dauntless deployed to Falklands – BBC