Chinese Fishing trawler Kai Xin, operated by Shanghai Kaichuang Marine International Co., Shanghai suffered a serious fire on the 17th of April 2013 whilst fishing for krill in the vicinity of the South Shetland Islands. Her 97 crewmen abandoned the vessel and boarded safely MV Skyfrost, a reefer vessel loading cargo in the vicinity and managed by Laskaridis Shipping Co Ltd. of Athens, Greece.
The distressed vessel was drifting unmanned towards the coast line of the South Shetland Islands, concretely, towards Greenwich Island, a hazardous area due to the presence of glaciers with dangers of grounding and causing damage to the environment of Antarctica.
M/V Skyfrost has followed the casualty under poor visibility and prevented further drifting through attempts of placing a towing line, mooring her and securing Kai Xin’s propeller with mooring rope. Finally the stricken vessel stopped drifting less than 1 mile away from the rocks.
In the meantime, the fire on board flared up again and increased with continuous explosions on board Kai Xin. M/V Skyfrost was forced to move to a safer distance preparing a long towing line in order to tow her away from the coast whilst watching and following her continuously. The Kai Xin, sank after burning for over four days. All fuel onboard burnt in the fire and no pollution was reported in the area. The Skyfrost was standing by at all times during these four days.
Master of M/V Skyfrost had been requested by the Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Center of Chile to report all news related to the condition of the Kai Xin and development of the situation.
At this point, we would like to clarify / correct erroneous media reports, distributed via AP, that the M/V Skyfrost was pressured into performing this rescue operation. This is a claim that the Owners, Managers and Operators of the M/V Skyfrost and her Crew, vehemently deny. Salvaging 97 crews and ensuring their health, safety, wellbeing and flying home safely is proof enough of the tasks performed by the Skyfrost, her crew and her Owners’/Manager’s.
The whole operation was performed in full coordination with the operators of the burning trawler in order for the rescue mission to be completed successfully.
Operating in these most remote and challenging regions, the managers of the Skyfrost have an impeccable safety and pollution record of more than 35 years and have been frequently involved with their vessels as volunteers in environmentally sensitive operations with a spotless record, considering that the protection of Life at Sea and the Environment is of their highest priority.
M/V Skyfrost, having performed a Northern Sea Route crossing in September 2012, is a vessel which has navigated the Arctic and the Antarctic Oceans, and is fully aware of the environmental challenges faced in these remote Ocean Regions.
The 97 crew members were disembarked safely in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, on Saturday the 27th of April 2013, were they were warmly accepted by the Seaman’s Mission in coordination with Stanley Services Ltd., M/V Skyfrost’s shipping Agents in the Falklands.
The crew members embarked on a chartered Uruguayan military flight, which was arranged by Laskaridis Shipping Ltd. in coordination with the operators of the Kai Xin, Shanghai Kaichuang Marine International Co. A new diplomatic record has been set with the flight plans over Argentine Airspace with the approval and support of this humanitarian mission by all authorities; from the Falkland Islands, Uruguay and Argentina.
All crewmembers are expected to be safely home in China, in the coming hours and days.
We deem this rescue mission in one of the most remote and desolate regions of the world, a success which wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance and smooth coordination of the Officers and Crew of the M/V Skyfrost, The Officers and Crew of the Kai Xin, The Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lavinia Corporation in Athens and Shanghai, Shanghai Kaichuang Marine International Co, operators of the Kai Xin, Chilean Search and Rescue, Uruguayan Air force and Christophersen Shipping Agency in Montevideo which coordinated the chartered flights.
We would also like to thank the Argentine Government for allowing these humanitarian flights from the Falklands to Montevideo to cross Argentinian Airspace as well as the Falkland Island and Uruguayan Governments respectively.
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