All over the news at the moment is the sinking of the M/V Explorer (ex - Linblad Explorer) off the South Shetland Island in Antarctica after hitting and becoming holed by an iceberg:
It has long been thought an inevitability that a tourist ship would get into trouble, or become holed, flounder and possibly sink. Many have thought it simply a question of when it will happen.
The fortunate (realatively) thing is that there were no people harmed in any way during the evacuation and subsequent rescue of tourists and crew and also that the environmental impact should be minimal as the ship sank in deep water. Had it been in shallower water, then leaking fuel oil could have caused a major environmental disaster, particularly if washed ashore. In deep water, such leaking fuel should be dissipated by wind and waves before making landfall.
There are safety questions being asked however:
Not only of the state of the ship, but of the vigilance of the crew. Avoiding icebergs isn't rocket science, but it does require a continuous high level of observation, much of which is boring and uneventful, but always vital. Modern ships very rarely hit icebergs.
This ship when previously known as the Linblad Explorer was one of the first ever to take fare-paying passengers to Antarctica specifically for tourism and is well known in the industry and also to staff of scientific bases in the Peninsula region as a regular visitor.
A grand old lady of the Antarctic has gone - was it bad luck or bad seamanship?