The Scorpius yacht with a Russian-Ukrainian crew on board has gone missing off the Antarctic coast while performing a polar circumnavigation voyage, the expedition’s press service said on Friday.
Ship navigation officers have failed to establish contact with the crew of four Russian and four Ukrainian nationals for several days, the report said.
The Scorpius left the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in September last year for a voyage around the South and the North Pole. On April 3, after visiting the Ukrainian Academic Vernadsky polar station, the yacht cast anchor near the U.S. Palmer research station on Anvers Island as the strong winds in the area made its further journey dangerous, the report said.
Before contact was lost, the crew had reported that they were going to sail towards the South Shetland archipelago, some 75 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula, where “one of the safest natural harbors” is located at Deception Island.
“According to [ship navigation] rules, they should send a SOS signal so that we could launch a search operation,” expedition spokeswoman Anna Subbotina told RIA Novosti. “As they have not sent the signal, there is hope that they have managed to cope with the situation on their own,” she said.
She suggested that strong wind could have damaged the antenna of the yacht’s satellite navigation system, which has already happened in the past.
The Scorpius’ crew intends to cover 70,000 miles during their 2.5-year expedition, expected to become the farthest and longest circumnavigation voyage ever conducted. They have already broken several world shipping records during the voyage, including the farthest journey into the Ross Sea in the Antarctic.
The voyage is planned to be concluded in early 2014.