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Two Crewmembers of Russian Icebreaker Die on Antarctic Voyage

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The Vasiliy Golovnin in 2015, with landing craft carried towards her stern (file image courtesy FESCO)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-04-30 18:39:24

Two crewmembers of the icebreaking cargo ship Vasiliy Golovnin died during a voyage between Antarctica and South Africa, according to union officials. 

"Fesco informed us on the death of two sailors while the Vasiliy Golovnin vessel was going to South Africa," the Federation of Trade Unions of the Primorsky Region told Russian state outlet TASS. "Still, the reasons behind the death of the sailors are unknown yet."

In a statement, operator FESCO said that "according to information available to the Company, the death of both seafarers was caused by an accident not related to the performance of their professional duties or weather factors." The vessel is still bound for Cape Town, FESCO said, and it is expected that the investigation will continue upon her arrival. The company expressed its condolences to the families and friends of the deceased seafarers. 

At the time of the incident, the Golovnin was under way back to South Africa after a three-month charter to deliver cargo and fuel to the Indian Antarctic research stations Bharati and Maitri. She departed Cape Town with 1,000 tons of cargo and a new delegation of Indian scientists on January 26; TASS reported that the resupply mission was challenging, with poor weather and ice conditions, and Golovnin had difficulty getting free of the ice pack on her return voyage.

The Soviet-built Vasiliy Golovnin is a diesel-electric icebreaking container feeder. She has a capacity of 300 TEU and is equipped with multiple cargo cranes and a helipad. The Golovnin is also capable of deploying self-propelled landing barges for delivering goods to unimproved sites.  

FESCO has been operating in Antarctica for 60 years, and has long supplied icebreaking cargo services for Argentine and Chilean research stations.