Massive rescue bill for Spirit of Mawson

Where will the liability fall?

Where will the liability fall?

Prof Chris Turney and the University of New South Wales could end up liable for up to AU$2.4 million to cover the cost of the rescue of the Ship of Fools:

THE Federal Government will seek the full costs incurred during the recovery effort to save the MV Akademik Shokalskiy.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said costs, estimated at about $2.4 million, would be sought from the insurer of the operators of the vessel.

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy, chartered by the University of NSW-associated Australasian Antarctic Expedition to retrace the steps of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, became stuck in thick sea ice on Christmas Eve.

The 52 passengers were rescued by the Aurora Australis on January 2.

Mr Hunt said the Commonwealth would seek compensation for the recovery effort. “We will be seeking full cost recovery through insurers for the up to $2.4 million costs incurred by the Australian government,” he said. “We have a duty to protect life at sea and we do that willingly.

“However, what we see here is that there are some questions as to whether or not the ship was detained by the action of those on board within an area the captain had identified as potentially being subject to being frozen in.

“I think we have a duty on behalf of taxpayers to seek full cost recovery.” (source)

Turney continues to claim the events were unavoidable:

“We were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was an extreme event and it caught us,” he said.

“On Boxing Day, we got hit with a south easterly blizzard with wind gusts up to 70km/h, the result of which was that the sea ice edge to open water blew out from two to four nautical miles to 20 nautical miles and there we stayed.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, however, claims that Turney ignored the instructions of the captain:

From midday on December 23 passengers were transported from the ship on snow vehicles over five nautical miles of ice to the Hodgeman Islands.

“Everyone on board was keen to make the journey across the fast ice to the Hodgeman Islands,” said one passenger.

A weather forecast predicted 25-35 knot winds reaching 40 knots late in the day.

“Despite the wind and extreme cold, the scenery on the journey was spectacular – it seemed unreal, as though we were on a movie set,” said the same passenger.

About 2.30pm the weather deteriorated. At the same time Captain Kiselev saw slabs of sea ice moving into the open water channel from which the ship had entered the area. He called for everyone to return.

A passenger standing near Professor Turney overheard the voyage leader, Greg Mortimer, telling him over the radio to bring passengers back to the ship so it can leave.

But minutes later, Professor Turney drove six more passengers into the field.

The overloaded vehicle had no space to collect returning passengers.

Failing to follow an instruction of the Captain would likely breach the terms of the charter agreement, since a term should be included which required the charterers to follow such instructions, and may be regarded as negligence on the part of the charterer.

In such circumstances, the insurer would seek to recover the losses from the party in breach – UNSW – who would no doubt seek to recover it from Chris Turney. Ouch.

If anyone has a copy of the charter party, please let me know.


  1. Simon stop teasing me, Oh how I wish that this idiot does end up with the bill, very nicely put together by the way, N

  2. Isn’t that $2.4M just for the Aurora Australis ?

    Won’t the Chinese and other people involved also want some recompense ?

    • There was also the French ice breaker that was diverted, putting their research teams schedule behind as well. Hope they make a claim as well.

    • yes, there are a lot of other costs still to come, it just proves that you can give a man a brain but you cannot make him use it, I mean you you idiot Turney. N

  3. The other thing that is not being said is that their ship got back to Australia long before they did, Aurora picked them up and then went back to its work and back to Casey Station, after that the MV Akademik Shokalskiy freed itself so it got back more than a week before the Aurora got back so this ice did break up quite quickly, Turney sure missed out there didn’t, he as he could have said that a sudden isolated outbreak of dangerous Global Warming freed the ship and they were lucky to have not been killed by all of the heat, Whahahahahahahahaha. N

  4. Lew Skannen says:

    Let’s not forget that ‘despicable arch denier’ Anthony Watts was the guy they got help from regarding the weather outlook. He told them to sit tight for a week and they would most likely be out of the ice when the wind changed. His prediction was spot on. But he is a denier so he had to be ignored….

    • Lew I’m betting that they thought that as he was a denier then he was laughing away and amusing himself at the idea of them being trapped for a few weeks so they could not bring themselves to believe him, as if a professional scientist would have done that, they are the ones that don’t care that the future will regard them as the perpetrators of the greatest con in history. The big thing is this, if they did really believe that the ice was melting then they should have believed him, with their own self confidence in melting ice that is, so when they did not, then they became lapsed Climate Change believers, due to the intense cold then they lost faith. now isn’t that interesting. N

  5. There’s plenty of private tourist companies that manage to visit the Antarctic, by ship and unlike the global warming hand-wringers on S.S. Stupid, don’t get caught in the ice.

  6. Reblogged this on Quixotes Last Stand.

  7. thingadonta says:

    Its just not so easy to adjust sea ice in real life, nor to elude reasonable instructions.

  8. Tim Foolery seemed to raise funds pretty quickly to fund his new Climate Wickerwork Co-Op. Perhaps they could hit him up for the $2.4M ?

  9. OH, it couldn’t happen to nicer people, it’ll teach the idiots a good lesson in the hip pocket.

  10. For his courage and fortitude Make it $5 mil just for fun.<:o)

  11. thingadonta says:

    I seem to remember that sea ice extent in Antarctica was one of the things that got John Cook all in a muddle, and had to change information on his website, when e.g. he initially repeatedly claimed Antarctic sea ice wasn’t increasing, then when shown the peer reviewed literature, changed his mind; and this is also what led Anthony Watts to conclude that the John Cook site was unreliable, due to changes, deletions and so on. Seems some alarmists have great trouble processing increasing sea ice….it just doesn’t sit with the agenda. So they keep getting stuck in it.

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