On 17 April 2013, a Chinese factory fishing ship “Kai Xin” caught fire off the Antarctica coast, and 97 crew members were rescued by a nearby Norwegian vessel “Juvel” as Chile’s military mobilized to prevent any environmental damage.
The crew members abandoned the burning Kai Xin and were taken aboard the Juvel about 34 miles (55 kilometers) from Chile’s Bernardo O’Higgins research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, Chilean officials said.
The ship was not immediately at risk of sinking, and nearby vessels could tow it away from the Antarctic coast if necessary, according to the officials.
Capt. Juan Marcelo Villegas, maritime governor for Chile’s portion of Antarctica, told The Associated Press that Chile’s navy could send a tugboat from Punta Arenas, near the southern tip of South America, to tow the ship to harbor as long as it remained seaworthy.
Chile’s air force was preparing a second flight to check on the vessel’s condition. The Kai Xin left port in Uruguay and Chilean officials did not know how much fuel it was carrying, Villegas said.
“At the moment the weather conditions are pretty favorable. There’s little wind and the ocean conditions are good, so, for the moment, there’s no imminent risk of sinking,” Villegas said.
China’s Panamanian-flagged Skyfrost ship was approaching the area and would be able to take on the rescued sailors, he said.
The Juvel trawler is owned by the Norwegian company Olympic Shipping AS.