Sea Shepherd’s ‘Steve Irwin’ crew have stopped searching for the three Berserk missing crewmembers after being forced to alter course.
“New Zealand rescue authorities say the ship was so far out its position was no longer relevant in relation to the distance Berserk could have travelled. ‘Steve Irwin’, which has been released with honour, had to alter course for Tasmania because it was very low on fuel, with an extremely weary crew,” Tore Hongset, Rescue Coordinator for the Joint Rescue Centre Northern Norway (JRC), tells The Foreigner.
Search efforts for the yacht and remaining crew have been continuous since all contact with the vessel and its emergency beacon was lost on Tuesday night in the worst blizzard of the Southern summer to date.
Teams have meticulously trawled 10,000 km2 in McMurdo Sound and the Ross Sea in hope of finding the two missing Norwegians, 36-year-old Tom Gisle Bellika and Robert Skaanes (34), and Leonard J. Banks (32) from South Africa.
The search “will continue as long as vessels can remain in the area, but there are grave concerns for the missing vessel and crew”, reports coordinating authority, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).
“Professor Khromov, formerly part of the search, will pass through the search area again in the next few days on its return journey, and will continue to look for signs of Berserk. Water temperature in the area is near-freezing, with ice forming, putting survival times at mere minutes.”
According to the JRC’s Tore Hongset, The Professor Khromov (akaThe Spirit of Enderby) and its crew are now the only ones currently looking for Berserk and its three men, and is proceeding northwards from McMurdo Sound after having dropped off some personnel there.
“It is a search vessel that can hail on all the maritime frequencies, use radar, and the crew will also be using binoculars.”
The expedition’s only two current survivors, the captain Jarle Andhøy and Samuel Massie, are expected to land in Christchurch, New Zealand, at approximately 23:45 this evening, Norwegian time.
“They are well, considering the circumstances, and are likely to be greeted at the airport by officials from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Antarctica New Zealand’s Communications Advisor, Matt Vance, tells VG.