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Scenic submersible delayed surfacing, damaged in Antarctic ice (updated)

Scenic Neptune was delayed returning to the surface by ice floes and sustained 'slight' damage to its external tanks
Fast-changing weather saw a Scenic Eclipse submersible abort its Antarctica dive, with its passengers exiting after two hours.

In a statement to Seatrade Cruise News, Scenic said, ‘While on a routine excursion operation in Antarctica’s Weddell Sea, and during flat, calm conditions, a katabatic wind event took place.

‘At the time Scenic Eclipse’s submersible, Scenic Neptune, was conducting a dive with guests onboard.

‘As per Scenic safety procedures and [International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators] guidelines, the submersible driver and sea-based team aborted the dive.’

Damage to Scenic Neptune

Scenic went on to add that the passengers’ delay leaving the submersible was due to ice floes holding up the return to surface. The incident resulted in 'slight' damage to Scenic Neptune’s external tanks.

‘The crew continued to follow the Scenic and IAATO protocols and all guests and crew returned safely to the ship within two hours while the Scenic Neptune submersible was taken into its onboard garage shortly thereafter,’ commented Scenic. The submersible is currently being assessed and Scenic said it will return to service when it is repaired and compliant. According to Scenic, all passengers onboard — and those scheduled on future bookings — have been made aware of the submersible's status. 

Scenic Eclipse’s third Antarctic season

Scenic Eclipse is operating its third season in the Antarctic, during which passengers have also explored by Zodiacs, kayaks and helicopters.

Follows Quark incident

It is the second recent incident in Antarctica this season, after two Quark Expeditions passengers on World Explorer died when their Zodiac overturned near Elephant Island Nov. 15.

Ongoing investigations

'It would be inappropriate to draw conclusions regarding either of these incidents at this time as they are still both subject to ongoing investigations,' IAATO said in a statement. 

'Fatal accidents involving tourists in Antarctica are rare, but after any incident in Antarctica, whether it involves an IAATO member or not, we as an association discuss and review within our committees and working groups, examine any lessons identified and make recommendations or changes to our guidelines accordingly.'

Update adds IAATO reaction