Charges filed against captain of failed polar expedition

Bookmark and Share

As Norway celebrates its Polar Year in 2011, commemorating the epic expeditions of Nansen and Amundsen, police charges have been filed  for the first time against the leader of another expedition that ended tragically in the Antarctic.

Norway’s own Polarinstitutt (Polar Institute) is reporting the captain of the missing vessel Berserk to police, charging Jarle Andhøy with negligence in failing to seek permission for the vessel’s voyage into Antarctica and failing to arrange for a search and rescue mission should it be required. Both are mandatory under the terms of international treaties, while Andhøy argues that the nature, including Antarctica, is free and open to everyone.

The polar institute is Norway’s management agency in the polar areas, and believes Andhøy broke Norwegian law because he didn’t have the authority to sail south of 60-degrees latitude. He and an 18-year-old companion had gone ashore in Antarctica before the Berserk sent out an emergency signal and disappeared. The vessel’s three crew members on board are presumed dead after getting caught in a major storm.

The circumstances surrounding the missing vessel along with criticism of authorities in New Zealand, from which the Bererk set sail for Antarctica, are embarrassing for the Norwegians, who pride themselves on well-prepared polar expeditions. Many polar experts, both in New Zealand and Norway, have claimed the crew of the Berserk was poorly prepared for conditions in the area.

A lawyer for Andhøy, who returned to New Zealand after being flown out of Antarctica and finally came home to Norway Sunday evening, said his client expected police charges would be filed and that he may face prison after the unsuccessful expedition. Andhøy also faces compensation claims for the costs of the unsucessful search and rescue efforts.

Views and News staff