Rescue authorities say they have given up hope of finding the three missing crewmembers from the Berserk in the Southern Ocean and are concentrating their efforts in a new area.
Crew from Sea Sherpherd’s ‘Steve Irwin’ ship picked up a half-submerged, unoccupied life raft from the missing yacht earlier today, approximately 45 Nautical Miles north from Tuesday night’s last point of communication.
“It has a torn canopy and is missing its first aid kit and survival knife. Evidence also indicates it has floated free from the vessel and not been released manually,” writes Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) in a press release.
Further items have also been found since, according to the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).
“The RCCNZ has confirmed the oar and water bottle came from the Berserk,” Geir Mortensen, press spokesman for the Joint Rescue Centre Northern Norway (JRC), tells The Foreigner.
All contact with Berserk was lost on Tuesday night after the vessel’s emergency beacon stopped transmitting about 18 nautical miles (33km) north of Scott Base.
The search has involved up to three ships and a helicopter, has lasted two days, and only two survivors have been found so far. Both are alive and well, according to MNZ.
Paul Watson, captain of the ‘Steve Irwin’ tells Aftenposten he believes there is little hope of now finding the three others, two Norwegians and a British National.
“There is a lot of ice in the area, everything from ice floe the size of a suitcase to icebergs the size of houses. Berserk’s steel hull would not have stood a chance if it has hit one of these. It would have made a big hole and the yacht would have sunk quickly,” he says.
The search in the Southern Ocean has now been called off, and is to move to a new area in Antarctica, according to the JRC’s Geir Mortensen.
“’Steve Irwin’ will now sail into open water to the Franklin Island. This is one of four optional meeting points Beserk’s captain, Jarle Andhøy, previously suggested in case things went wrong,” he says.
Captain Watson and his crew are expected to arrive at approximately 10 p.m. tonight, Norwegian time, after a 9-10 hour voyage.
“I believe it is more likely to be during the early morning, though. The search will last for up to two hours. There will be a meeting after that where the results are collated, and when a decision will be made as to further action,” he says.