Expedition On The Cheap? Did Organizers Recklessly, Negligently Put Lives And Property At Risk?

With the MS Akademik Shokalskiy research vessel firmly embedded in ice and costs of the mammoth rescue effort mounting, the “scientific” Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by Professor Chris Turney has morphed into a debacle that has put dozens of lives and property at risk. In under-estimating the world’s harshest environment and through slipshod planning and short cuts taken in a bid to keep costs down, expedition organizers may have recklessly and negligently put the lives of the 74 passengers in jeopardy.

The purpose of the AAE expedition was to take a science team of 36 women and men south to discover just how much change has taken place at Mawson Station over 100 years. The expedition was also intended to replicate the original AAE led by explorer Sir Douglas Mawson a century ago, in 1913. The new expedition was to be led by Prof. Chris Turney, a publicity-hungry professor of climate change at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

Antarctic AAE

Source: AAE

Also the expedition was designed to generate lots of publicity. Along the scientists and ship’s crew were 4 journalists from leading media outlets who would feed news regularly, and later report extensively on the results and findings. All this in turn would bring loads of attention to a region that is said to be threatened by global warming. The AAE’s donation website even states that the expedition’s purpose is to collect data and that the findings are “to reach the public and policy makers as soon as possible“.

But expeditions of this type are expensive and funding is not always easy to come by. Costs can run in the millions as special equipment is needed to handle the extremely harsh conditions of the South Pole. Downplaying the conditions to justify cost-cutting by using lower grade equipment rapidly jeopardizes safety.

Inadequate, bargain-price research vessel

The first error expedition leaders made was under-estimating the prevailing sea ice conditions at Mawson Station, their destination. The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there. This in turn would allow them to charter a lighter, cheaper vessel.

This seems to be the case judging by their choice of seafaring vessel. They chartered a Russian vessel MS Akademik Shokalskiy, an ice-strengthened ship built in Finland in 1982. According to Wikipedia the ship has two passenger decks, with dining rooms, a bar, a library, and a sauna, and accommodates 54 passengers and a crew of up to 30. Though it is ice-reinforced, it is not an ice-breaker. This is a rather surprising selection for an expedition to Antarctica, especially in view that the AAE website itself expected to travel through areas that even icebreakers at times are unable to penetrate, as we are now vividly witnessing. Perhaps the price for chartering the Russian vessel was too good to pass up.

Luring naïve tourists as a source of cash

What made the expedition even more dubious is that Turney and his team brought on paying tourists in what appears to have been an attempt to help defray the expedition’s costs and to be a source of cheap labor. According to the AAE website, the expedition was costed at US$1.5 million, which included the charter of the Akademik Shokalskiy to access the remote locations. “The site berths on board are available for purchase.” Prices start at $8000!

The expedition brought with it 4 journalists, 26 paying tourists.

Here it seems that the obvious risks and hazards of bringing tourists to the world’s harshest environment in a budget-priced vessel unable to handle ice-breaking may have been brushed aside, or at least played down. Was this reckless on the part of the expedition? That Antarctica is a harsh environment was in fact known to expedition leader Chris Turney: Bild online here quotes Turney: “In the Antarctic the conditions are so extreme that you can never make forecasts.” Is this an environment you’d want to bring unfamiliar tourists in – on a vessel that cannot even break ice?

As an expedition to Antarctica is nothing less than an extreme adventure in every sense, employing guides who are highly trained professionals would seem a must when tourists are involved. Scientists are not tour guides. Many of the passengers were there for the very first time and had zero experience with the region’s conditions. It seems reckless to me.

“Polar Party-Ship”

Signs showing the crew didn’t understand the region’s harshness

The 5-week expedition started off relatively smoothly, but by Christmas Eve events turned for the worse and took the scientists by surprise. A thick layer of sea ice is claimed to have come out from nowhere and trapped the Akademik Shokalskiy after departure.

Akademik Shokalskiy Australasian Antarctic Expedition Footloose FotographyAkademik Shokalskiy global warming expedition turns into an icy debacle. Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography

At times it appeared Turney tried to deny the trouble he was in, even putting on a festive face. At times he pretended the weather was fine and that it was warm outside. Moreover, the media was on Turney’s side, and they actively provided a fog to hide the debacle from the public.

Even as costs for the rescue efforts ran up and international rescue teams scrambled, putting their own lives and limbs at risk, Turney and the passengers partied like it was spring break. German Bild here describes an eerily manic atmosphere, calling it the “Party Polar Ship“:

Things are going so fantastically well here that I’ve already made a million photos“, said Alicia Guerrero. “The mood on board is fantastic; we’re dancing on the ice.“

Bild adds:

It seems like nothing absolutely matters to them, being trapped in bitter cold nowhere.”

Defying reality, Turney insists Antarctic sea ice is shrinking

Why the vessel got trapped in the first place may be because Turney never bothered to look at sea ice charts, which showed near record high levels of sea ice surrounding Antarctica. Also, Turney even denied that the overall sea ice trend was expanding around the continent. Fox News writes:

Turney said it was ‘silly’ to suggest he and 73 others aboard the MV Akademic Shokalskiy were trapped in ice they’d sought to prove had melted. He remained adamant that sea ice is melting, even as the boat remained trapped in frozen seas.”

Did he expect to find less ice than Mawson did 100 years earlier? This appears to be what he expected, given his expedition’s planning.

Lacked reliable weather forecasting?

Moreover it seems they lacked competent weather forecasting services. Why wasn’t it possible to see the massive sea ice coming? In the harshest environment on the planet one would think expert local weather forecasting is absolutely essential. There was no one on board who could give weather and sea ice forecasts?

It begins to dawn on Turney

By December 30, having been stuck in 3-meter thick sea ice for almost a week, Turney seemed to be coming to terms with the dire reality and that his expedition had seriously underestimated the conditions, putting his team and the tourists in jeopardy.

At the Spirit of Mawson website here he posted:

It has been a sobering week. At the time we were initially caught by the sea ice, the Shokalskiy was just 2 to 4 nautical miles from open water. Now the sea ice distance has become even greater with the continued winds from the east, putting our nearest point of exit at some 16 nautical miles.”

Later on, rather than blaming shoddy planning, Turney blames iceberg calving from the continent colliding with the extended tongue of the Mertz Glacier for changing the sea ice conditions in the region.

Change in sea ice - 29/12

Failure to forecast ice movement. Chart: AAD/ACE CRC Sea Ice Group in Hobart

He writes:

This has been revealed by new satellite imagery which arrived today from the AAD/ACE CRC Sea Ice Group in Hobart, Tasmania.”

It’s as if this was the first satellite image of ice they had looked at. It’s a mystery how there was no one was on board to monitor sea ice activity and that no one saw it coming. Turney also told FoxNews.com:

We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

That sort of thing normally happens to those who neglect monitoring weather forecasts, sea ice charts and real conditions.  They can predict the climate for the year 2100 but not tomorrow’s wind and sea ice motion?

Turney likes having it both ways

And when the Australian icebreaker gave up trying to reach the research vessel because of a snowstorm, he called the storm “shocking” – as if it were something he had never experienced. Clearly Turney likes having it both ways: On one hand, depending on the occasion, things are warming and comfy in Antarctica and so it’s no problem bringing tourists along on joy ride in a regular ship, but on the other hand, when things go wrong, it’s always because of “extreme, unpredictable conditions” and so it isn’t his fault.

In way over his head

When operating in the world’s most hazardous regions, there’s no excuse for not working doubly diligently. Clearly Turney’s expedition completely underestimated the task at hand and he now finds himself in it way over his head. Though he tries to put on a festive face, his troubles in fact may be only beginning.

My guess is that he’s going to have lots of explaining to do and with lots of tough questions coming from some really tough people. We’re talking about having put the lives of dozens of people’s and property at risk – never mind the tab for the international rescue efforts with heavy equipment. Was it a good idea to travel in ship in a region that clearly even icebreakers are at times unable to navigate? Can scientists be expected to babysit tourists and half-witted journalists while doing their work? Why was there no competent weather forecasting? Can you blame the unexpected for every thing that goes wrong? Was the focus too much on publicity, and not enough on safety?

Out of the ice – and now in hot water

In private industry the CEO responsible for such a costly debacle would be in tons of hot water by now. The fine print in the contracts now becomes important: Who was responsible for what? There are some big bills to pay.

Turney and the expedition would be well-advised to find competent legal counsel very quickly. His websites and entries are rich in excuses, denials and admissions. There are going to be lots of big bills to settle. More importantly, hopefully fundamental measures will be implemented in the future so that such similar life-threatening fiascos don’t happen again.

Sweeping the matter under the rug and attempting to laugh it off is an invitation for the next debacle. If Turney-like expeditions are allowed to continue, the Antarctic will soon turn into a junkyard of sunken ships and toxic waste.


121 responses to “Expedition On The Cheap? Did Organizers Recklessly, Negligently Put Lives And Property At Risk?”

  1. Katabasis

    Absolutely brilliant and damning critique Pierre.

    1. François GM

      Agreed. Happy New Year !

    2. Jimbo

      One of Pierre’s best! Now, take a look at these.

      Here is what they would have found at Mawson Station – ice, ice baby.

      Here is Commonwealth Bay around 1913 – ice free baby. 🙂

      1. Dave

        Well that’s not relevant – Mawson station is over a thousand miles away from where this all happened. And the ice they’re stuck in is broken up ice that was blown back onto them.

  2. Moose

    This guy should be brought to justice and held accountable for gross neglect, endangering lives and property and what else to the full extend of the law and beyond!

  3. Bernd Felsche

    Somebody on WUWT quoted Roald Amundsen

    Adventure is just bad planning


    1. DirkH

      These haphazard Anglo-Saxon shoestring operations sure make for better stories than German expeditions that cost a ton of money, have a reserve system for anything that fails, and inevitably come back alife.

  4. A C Osborn

    A Happy & Prosperous New Year to you too.
    Thank you for the efort you put in on the blog during 2013.

    This story was one of the best presents given to us by the AGW crowd this year, there is also good news from down under – see Jo Nova’s post on a change in media output with a great rebuttal of all things AGW by Maurice Newman.

  5. Bernd Felsche

    Forecast temperature for Perth, Western Australia tonight; 13⁰C

    About the same as in Germany. One is summer, the other is winter.

    Funny old thing; weather.

    With 44 minutes to got, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! (By that, I don’t mean to offend those using a different calendar.)

  6. R Slicker

    “More importantly hopefully fundamental measures will be implemented in the future so that such similar life-threatening fiascos are prevented”.


    I am with Darwin on this one. In fact, I nominate Prof Chris Turney for the Jan 2014 Darwin Award.

  7. G Mitchell

    Great! More ‘scientist-bashing’ completely unaware it seems of a) the fact that the captain is responsable for the ship and where it goes, not the scientist leading the expedition, and b) the particular conditions around Antarctica which make it very hard if not impossible at most times to predict sea-ice conditions adequatly.

    FYI, sea ice charts for that area of the world are practically useless as the ice gets blown around and into each other by the wind on a daily basis and often changes strength and direction within hours.

    Furthermore, your post is full of assumptions, assumptions which you then criticize whithout bothering to find out wether these assumptions are in fact true in the first place. You write: “The scientists seemed to be convinced that Antarctica was a warmer place today than it had been 100 years earlier, and thus perhaps they could expect less sea ice there.”

    Again you are letting your own limited understanding of the science get into the argument.

    Scientists are fully aware that a warming Antarctica means more sea ice as Antarctica is land surrounded by sea. There’s plenty of stories over the past few
    years about Antarctic ice floes breaking off and land-based ice sliding into the sea.

    “Is this an environment you’d want to bring clueless tourists in – on a vessel that cannot even break ice?”

    And what exactly makes you believe their are clueless? FYI, these are not the typical cruise passengers on a comfy ship sailing through the Caribbean.

    “Why the vessel got trapped in the first place may be because Turney never bothered to look at sea ice charts, which showed near record high levels of sea ice surrounding Antarctica.”

    May be? So Turney is now also responsible for the navigation of the vessel, a task typically done by the ship’s Navigation Officer and, ultimately, the ship’s captain.

    “This appears to be what he expected given his expedition’s planning.”

    Another assumption.

    “Moreover it seems they lacked competent weather forecasting services.”

    Perhaps there are no competent weather forecasting services in that part of the world?

    “Why wasn’t it possible to see the massive sea ice coming?”

    Because the wind changes direction and strength at a much faster pace than satellites can pick-up, analyse and distribute.

    “In the harshest environment on the planet one would think weather forecasting is absolutely essential.”

    It certainly is yet that doesn’t mean that weather-forecasting can foresee every single hazard, as you wrongly assume.

    1. DirkH

      “Great! More ‘scientist-bashing’ ”

      Nah, it’s
      More “scientist”-bashing.

      Careful with the quote positioning.

      1. G Mitchell

        …said the “skeptic”.

        1. DirkH

          Mitchell, WHAT credibility do CO2AGW scientists have now, that all their GCM’s have been sunk? (They’ve never been validated in the first place, so big surprise that it’s all junk.)

    2. François GM

      Gee Mitchell. So much venom ! On New Year’s Eve !

      You write: “Scientists are fully aware that a warming Antarctica means more sea ice as Antarctica is land surrounded by sea.” Clearly, you are not only frustrated but also delusional or terminally naive.

    3. Mary Wilbur

      I don’t think you and all the other CAGW alarmists, with or without university degrees in a hard science, give a d***m about learning anything about what caused or causes the huge fluctuations of the earth’s climate over the billions of years since its birth. You have another agenda: power and money. As far as I’m concerned you are as greedy and as corrupt as the banksters that brought down the world’s economy in 2008. They sold worthless mortgage-backed securities and you’re selling pseudo-science. Not everybody bought it then, and not everybody is buying it now.

    4. moonrakin

      Hello Sunshine G.Mitchell

      I’ve been to the Arctic ice regularly (summer + winter) over 30+ years on a variety of research vessels from a selection of countries and this lot are an embarrassment bordering on fraud.

      I’ve looked to find their project pages detailing the project, time program, methods, reporting schedule and I come up woefully short.

      I have a deal of sympathy for the Russian crew since they are by and large the boat driver (no disrespect intended – just an observation) and having 70 or so “convivial” civvies blundering about on a small ship is a true PITA.

      Hard questions need to be asked by people who can compel answers – the self justification is already being squeezed out but the usual suspects.

      Caution is the watchword up north and I’m told it’s doubly so down south – going into ice without aerial assets is not a good idea – and the crew need to concentrate and the passengers need to jump to it when told to – if the rumor about a delay in skedaddling due to penguin counting is true then categorically someone’s arse needs kicking hard.

      It’s a bunch of religious tourists bungee jumping into a volcano.

      1. G Mitchell

        “I’ve been to the Arctic ice regularly (summer + winter) over 30+ years on a variety of research vessels from a selection of countries…”


        I find that very hard to believe. I think you are just a bloke with a grudge against the UK Environmental Agency.

    5. mareeS

      Blame the skipper? Well, yes, he’s ultimately in charge, and deserves what’s coming for the loss of his ship, same as the one from Costa Concordia. The skipper of Aurora Australis had full awareness of his role as master and responsibility for his ship and crew, and turned back to safer water. The man deserves all praise.

    6. Craig King

      Regarding competent weather forecasting for the area I would refer you to . . .


      There was a possible antipathy towards Mr Watts initially, but that seems to have been overcome by the situation

      1. Craig King

        Ah, sorry for the duplication. I was eager to get the iron(y) in without reading the rest of the comments. I should have known better with this gang of fundi’s 🙂

        Happy New Year everybody, and Pierre if anything that post was too short. It flowed like sweet honey.

        Even though the extraction of the humans and their kit is now underway I will say that I have flown helicopters and we should all hope that nothing further goes wrong. Flying rotor wings in that environment is not straightforward.

  8. Mike Spilligan

    No apologies needed for “the extra long post”, it’s really required for this matter. Of course Turney likes having it both ways – the AGW herd usually do, unless they can opt for three ways or more with a few excuses for failure in reserve. I’m with Moose here; depending under whose jurisdiction these follies were entered into I’d try (at least) to bankrupt Turney and his sponsors, but as we find out too often here (UK) the bills end up with taxpayers and the culpable go free to do perpetrate new idiocies.

  9. RC Saumarez

    I would say that Turney has just demonstrated his null hypothesis is falsified.

  10. G. Watkins

    Great critique.
    G. Mitchell is clearly suffering from cognitive dissonance – tablets are available but not necessarily curative.
    Diolch yn fawr a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda. ( Thanks very much and a Happy New Year) from Wales.
    BTW I have been to the Antarctic peninsular in a smallish cruise ship. The experienced Swedish captain was joined by a ‘sea-ice’ captain for all the days we were near/in the Antarctic circle. It will be interesting to find out the experience of the skipper of the stranded ship and his advisors.

  11. Jazznick

    No need to apologize Pierre. I think you were quite restrained.

    One wonders what the legal terms and conditions are for the 26 ‘tourists’ who paid
    for this journey to oblivion and whether they will be suing when/if they get back ?

    Force Majeaure can cover quite a lot but lack of due diligance, chartering the wrong
    ship with an incapable crew who failed to keep a look out or to use basic ice forecasting would be good for starters.
    Reckless navigation likely to endanger life might be another.

    This could get very messy and expensive.

  12. DICK R

    This is a delight, these ecolunatics had no other purpose in mind but to further the global warming garbage, no doubt if they had managed to get pictures of the summer melt, in a year or so they would have been misrepresented as taken in an ‘antarctic winter’ instead these cretins have been’ hoist by their own petard ‘ ,stranded in pack ice the summer , looking like the total bloody idiots they are!

  13. Stephen Richards

    Great piece Pierre. Bon nouvel an et bonne année 2014.

  14. Stephen Richards

    Michel keeps piping in with his “defense” of the stupid. Why these trolls see the need to expose their total stupidy to the general public I just do not know but keep going Mitch you are doing more damage to the reputation of crimatologists than the idiot Turney could ever achieve.

    A Scientist.

    1. G Mitchell

      Not a troll, Stephen.

      Just trying to get some genuine skepticism into the “skeptics” here.

      1. DirkH

        The “genuine skepticism” that believes in the Null hypothesis that the government (and its scientists) are always right. IOW, Randi skepticism.

        See, we don’t claim to know the future. We just say that the models are wrong, have been falsified, and new models must be put to the test before government climate science can regain ANY credibility.

      2. Jimbo

        Mitchell, you are truly outstanding. You are taking on the sceptics and defeating them in this Antarctic folly. You really have got off to a good start in 2014. Congratulations! You are da man. 🙂

        [It’s always better to be kind and encouraging to the mentally disturbed. We in the community must do all we can to help those who reach out to us for help in the community].

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  16. Ric Werme

    R Slicker
    31. Dezember 2013 at 16:26 | Permalink | Reply

    > I am with Darwin on this one. In fact, I nominate Prof Chris Turney for the Jan 2014 Darwin Award.

    Darwin Award nominees have to be dead (or at least unable to procreate) due to their actions.

    1. Ed Caryl

      So, frostbite could do it?

    2. Mortis

      You may want to wait until they are successfully rescued…

  17. Mike Heath

    Excellent article!

    Mitch being in his process of blithering exasperation from his collapsing delusional paradigm, spitting anything he can come up with like small boys urinating on a house fire, will be joined shortly by his mates. The joy which these adventurers have given to us over the last week will get a payback, and 2014 will see a deluge of reactionary face saving urination. Anyone who can’t swim, grab a chair quickly.

  18. thebiggreenlie

    Where’s Al Gore?……..wouldn’t he want to save these idiots?………………….

  19. DirkH

    1 hour ago: Turney makes his captives sing.
    Tourists and scientists according to the BBC, no mention of the embedded reporters of the BBC and the Guardian.

    1. mwhite

      The BBC is supposed to carry out risk assesments before sending their people out on this kind of journey.

      1. Mike86

        Don’t suppose those risk assessments would be subject to a FoI request from a UK citizen?

  20. Paul

    Really wasn’t looking forward to the new year celebrations but tonight I now feel overwhelmed by a mixture of heady, uncontrollable laughter and schadenfreude.
    Brilliant post, well written and just perfect.
    Thank you.

  21. DirkH
  22. Micky

    Need at least 75,000 horsepower to be reasonably certain of escape from the Antarctic ice, the Akademik Shokalskiy has about 3,000 horsepower. Idiots.

    1. Steve from Rockwood

      The hull is not designed to escape. With a 75,000 Hp engine the ship would make one giant leap onto the ice and … disintegrate.

  23. Manfred

    Isn’t it research grant fraud, if you apply to research the effects of global warming and reduced sea-ice in a continent which has been cooling for 30 years and sea ice increasing, even with record highs recently ? Can we really assume, the scientists did not know that ?

  24. Billy NZ

    Happy new year to all from NZ. The quote from Mitchell says it is hard or near impossible to predict ice conditions in the Antarctic. To me,that should have given them a clue to pick a more suitable vessel? Sailing into the unknown with under equipped gear is a disaster waiting to happen. Thanks for the great essay,thoroughly enjoyed it.

  25. GregO


    Your post framed the situation perfectly.

    The mission was entirely unnecessary, needlessly dangerous, and clearly, horribly, poorly planned.

    I hope everyone on that ship makes it out OK. I fear for their safety. From what I have seen, everyone on that ship (besides the crew) is a mental and physical lightweight. They are in danger. If they are not evacuated soon, they are done for. An American icebreaker (http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/cgcpolarstar/)is underway but will not make Antarctica for over a week.

    Happy New Year! Gluckliches neues Jahr!

    Love your blog!

  26. Layne

    The earth shattering quote of the article:

    You don’t expect us to predict things hours in advance, do you?

    Yet he expects us to believe they can predict the climate in 100 years.

  27. John F. Hultquist

    I think I’m going to run out of popcorn before this is over!
    I’ll need more beer, too, I think.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR, to all.

    Thanks for the blog, Pierre.

  28. Susan Fraser

    Despite all those journalists, there seems some ‘confusion’ in the news stories. The NZ Herald has had to correct the BBC report of the Chinese icebreaker “stuck in the ice”:

    Antarctic rescue vessel not stuck in ice

    Rescue for Antarctic ice-bound ship under threat
    “…However, the Xue Long has barely moved in a day and may be stuck in the ice.”

  29. Don

    G. Mitchell: This will be third or fourth hand information, but there supposedly has been a report in Australian media of an email from a tourist on board the trapped vessel. The Russian captain wanted to get underway in time to evade the incoming windblown ice, but was hampered by the large amount of time needed to round up the scientists, the tourists and all their gear. They almost made it, open water was in sight. The question now is even if the weather changes and the wind can reverse direction, peak summer melting occurs or the cavalry in the form of the USCGC Polar Star arrives (questionable), is the Akademik Shokalskiy even seaworthy? Antarctica routinely eats vessels larger than the Shokalskiy, such as M/V Linblad Explorer.

    1. Aphan

      The damning evidence is here-


      “The third drama of the day is the one which is still unfolding. Because of the Argo mishap we got off late, and had one less vehicle to ferry people to and fro. I’m told the Captain was becoming rather definite late in the afternoon that we needed to get everyone back on board ASAP because of the coming weather and the ice closing in. As I write we are continuing to make extremely slow progress through what looks like a winter alpine snow field – it’s yet another surreal part of this journey that we are in a ship trying to barge our way through here! I’m sure the Captain would have been much happier if we had got away a few hours earlier. Maybe we would have made it through the worst before it consolidated as much as it has with the very cold south- easterly winds blowing the ice away from the coast, around and behind us as well as ahead.”

      And here-

      spiritofmawson.com journal entries

      Chris Turney “Return to Mawson’s Hut… One Hundred Years On”
      Posted by Chris Turney, December 21, 2013

      “Unfortunately this is something of a double edged sword. We have been having extraordinary warm weather; so much so the fast ice – purportedly meaning the sea ice is locked ‘fast’ to the land – can spectacularly break out along the edge at any time. A timely reminder was during the evening we relocated. The Shokalskiy suddenly found it was in a mass breakout of ice. In just half an hour, an extensive area of ice (some of which we had been using for the Hangout on Air earlier that day) had broken up and was moving away from Commonwealth Bay with haste. Large pieces of ice, in the shape of shattered glass fragments – albeit large pieces – surrounded our vessel. There was no danger to the ship but it was a timely reminder how quickly things can change in this environment. You can never take anything for granted in the Antarctic!”

      The ship had already been stuck in the ice ONCE on the 18th-19th of December. Suddenly. Janet Rice’s blog makes it clear that the Captain had already been in a tiff about the weather, AND she mentions on that same page that:

      “We were out in similar conditions this afternoon. Somewhat brighter – in fact there was blue sky and sunshine for some periods. The weather has been better than the forecast blizzard, so that was good.”

      The Captain knew a blizzard was coming. He tried to get the idiots off the ice and OUT before the storm hit. The passengers KNEW it was forecasted. And the idiot scientists and tourists stayed on the ice too damn long and got caught.

  30. Richard Sharpe

    in what appears to have been an attempt to help defer the expedition’s costs

    That should be defray as in, reduce, the expedition’s costs.

  31. Don

    Correction: At the time of it’s sinking off Antarctica in 2007, the ship was named M/S Explorer. It had three names and nine owners during it’s career, so I should not have written about her from memory.

  32. Tom Harley

    They must still believe it’s like 1912, or 1934, but warmer due to global warming. Hehe: http://pindanpost.com/2014/01/01/antarctic-heat-wanted-found-80-years-ago/

  33. Tom Harley

    Hey Mitchell, the Explorers worked in singlets in 1909, http://pindanpost.com/2014/01/01/media-now-stranded-by-agenda/

  34. Phillip Bratby

    Great post and not too long. Keep up the good work and wishing you and all your readers a belated Happy and Prosperous New Year.

  35. ike

    Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance!

    Happy new year.


  36. hro001

    Great piece, Pierre … And I can do nothing but laugh at G. Mitchell’s oh so feeble attempt at “choreography” !

    Clearly Mitchell has overlooked the fact that the Akademik Shokalskiy has been converted from a “research vessel” to a tourist cruiser. He’s also (perhaps conveniently) overlooked (as did Turney, evidently) advisories from the tourist operator to the effect that if you expect to sail into Mawson-land unhindered by that which Nature has accomplished/inflicted, this is definitely not the cruise for you.

  37. anonym

    Did he expect to find less ice than Mawson did 100 years earlier? This appears to be what he expected, given his expedition’s planning.

    The video from the crowdfunding site makes it clear that they were expecting more sea ice than in Mawson’s time in the vicinity of Commonwealth Bay:

    Unfortunately, recent attempts by other parties and satellite imagery has shown Commonweath Bay to be badly clogged with sea ice, limiting access to the old huts over the last three years. In the spirit of Mawson, we will attempt to reach Cape Dennison, but if unsuccessful will push on and land at one of several other ice-free locations to continue the planned work.

  38. ES

    Nicky Phillips on the Aurora Australis is also a warmist reporter.

    Take Nicky Phillips, a warmist reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald. Here is Phillips a month ago, telling us she’s going to visit the Antarctic (on another ship):
    …global warming is an important story, and the trip will give Fairfax Media a rare opportunity to visit the continent most acutely affected by global warming. Antarctica is climate change ground zero. The data that scientists gather will play a crucial role in future climate models.

    Phillips is now on the icebreaker which tried and failed to free the Shokalskiy and its mortified warmists. Her reports are now free of any mention of global warming now that she’s staring at record ice instead of melted glaciers.


    1. DirkH

      “Antarctica is climate change ground zero.”

      Who in the world gave her (?) THAT idea? Please, media head honchos, make sure that your uneducated employees understand
      a) the Antarctic peninsula is not all of Antarctica
      b) Steigs papers showing warming of the peninsula used ONE thermometer and are likely not that representative at all.

      You risk the lifes of your goons!

    2. mareeS

      Nicky Phillips, another child reporter being spat out at record rates from “communications schools” at Australian universities, straight into public broadcasters and failing private newspapers. Byebye career, Nicky, along with Prof Turkey. There’s still a career in advertising, where at least the lies are honest.

  39. We Begin The New Year With Irony…

    […] But here’s the thing – the Spirit of Mawson expedition wasn’t serious science of any kind. It was a publicity junket and a tourism expedition led by a professor of global warming from the University of New South Wales named Christopher Turnley, and the preparations for the trip were as slipshod and scammish as the supposed science underlying it… […]

  40. The hazards facing the Australasian Antarctic Expedition « Quotulatiousness

    […] Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) has run into far harsher sea and ice conditions than they’d banked on, and it raises […]

  41. Stephen Richards

    ike 1. Januar 2014 at 09:09 | Permalink | Reply Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance! Happy new year. –

    OR “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”.

  42. Stephen Richards

    ike 1. Januar 2014 at 09:09 | Permalink | Reply Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance! –

    (first comment was lost.)

    OR “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an urgency on mine”

  43. DirkH

    Man Bearpig at WUWT has saved a copy of a report from some VERY miffed scientists whose gear could not be unloaded off the Aurora Australis because the ship was called to the emergency.
    Source: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/rescue-effort-for-trapped-antarctic-voyage-disrupts-serious-science/?smid=tw-share&_r=1

    I give both links in case the NYT erases the comment.

    1. hro001

      Excerpts from a comment from a Dr. Russell Potter that (rather surprisngly) was flagged as an “NYT Pick”

      […]the expense of evacuating the passengers will far outweigh any small gains to science[…] As a polar historian, I am of the view that these sorts of re-enactment voyages are very ill-advised; the small bits of research accomplished on this costly voyage using a chartered vessel could far more readily have been obtained with a single Twin Otter plane, a couple of tents, and four or five scientists at a fraction of the cost.

      Source: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/rescue-effort-for-trapped-antarctic-voyage-disrupts-serious-science/?comments#permid=10849960

      Perhaps when the history books are written about the madness these so-called “climate scientists” would foist upon the rest of us, this episode will come to be known as Turney’s Folly.

  44. David W

    First, my first time here – I like the post, not only not too long but an eloquent damning of those in charge.

    “Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance! ”

    I had a friend in Marine Force Recon (a Col. who was a vet from Chosen Resevoir in Korea, through all of Vietnam and a Navy Cross winner) used to stress that all the time – called it the 7 “P”s of survival

    Happy New Year all – we have been given a great PR present as long as no one gets hurt in the rescue – godspeed to all on that ship and all who seek to help her.

  45. Stephen Rasey

    So Turney is now also responsible for the navigation of the vessel, a task typically done by the ship’s Navigation Officer and, ultimately, the ship’s captain.

    The “Company Man”, i.e. the entity that charters the vessel specifies the cruise, so the Company Man holds the majority of the liability. The Captain and Navigators are there to do it safely.

    Don’t believe me? Go ask BP, re Macondo #1. BP hires Transocean Deepwater Horizon to drill the well. The well blows out. BP pays.

    1. G Mitchell

      The entity that chartered the vessel is Adventure Associates and its director Greg Mortimer is also aboard.

      So now we’ve established that the person responsable for the scientific part of the expedition is not responsable for this event, right?

      1. IanW

        Thanks G Mitchell. I had assumed that you are linked to the Professor’s team in some way and are trying to protect him.
        From my own knowledge of these processes, it will come down to the lease contract terms, which you suggest are complex. So information about how the lease was set up will be critical: who contacted the ship’s owners? Was it Turney, Mortimer, UNSW, etc? What assurances were given about the usage of the ship? Were they honoured? Who decided to land passengers on the ice rather than at port? Who was responsible for complying with the Captain’s directions to re-board ship? How did the Captain log the incident? Did Turney or Mortimer initial the log?
        In addition, if the ship is lost, questions arise as to whether UNSW is liable as the Commonwealth should have limited its liability to the grant and not be responsible for operational matters.
        Protecting someone as ingenuous as Turney seems an uphill battle to me.

        1. G Mitchell

          “Protecting someone as ingenuous as Turney seems an uphill battle to me.”

          You are the one, along with every one else here, assuming he is to blame without actually knowning all the facts.

          I found the info about who chartered the vessel with a simple Google search. The ship is available for voyages into the polar regions on multiple specialized ship cruises sites (see for example http://www.polarcruises.com/antarctica/ships/ships-adventure-options/shokalskiy & http://www.choosingcruising.co.uk/cruiseweb/ShpDetailsQuery.asp?client=choosing&nShp=374) and it is in fact not the first time that it visited the Antarctic region (see for example here http://andreas-und-angelika.de/galleries/andreas/2005-03_Antarctica/ ).

          I find it very weird that despite you listing numerous questions in your previous reply, you still assume Turney was disingenuous. How do you know that if admittedly you do not have all the answers? Do you have a crystal ball or is it wishful thinking?
          you already blame one of the scientists aboard the vessel without knowning all the facts

  46. Bernd Felsche

    Wednesday 21 January 1987 (during the global cooling scare)
    Canberra Times

    Huskies swelter in Polar Heatwave

    OSLO, Tuesday (Rcuter). — A Norwegian-led expedition trying to ski to the South Pole has been forced to travel by night because unusually high temperatures in the Antarctic have made it too hot for thick coated huskies to work by day.

    From her position 500km from the South Pole, Ms Monica Kristensen told the Oslo daily newspaper, Verdens Gang, by radio that temperatures rose to 6 degrees C on Saturday. …

    Norwegian Antarctic experts in Oslo said Ms Kristensen would probably have to ask a US base there to fly the team out if she did not reach the pole until mid-February because conditions by then would make it impossible to return on skis.

  47. Steve from Rockwood

    Climate scientists obviously don’t understand long term ice variability in the Antarctic.

  48. Clive G. Smale - Philippines

    Incisive and a great briefing. I didn’t realize that the ship was only strengthened and NOT an icebreaker. This I have not heard in the MSM. The BBC 2 news (08.00GMT) has just announced that the pax are being helicoptered off. I sincerely trust that this goes without accident. When will these off-the-wall dreamers who try to sell the world their climate porkies be really taken to task for irresponsible clarion calls to disaster? By the way, I got your link via GWPF. Great post & thanks.

  49. mayne

    ‘Later on, rather than blaming shoddy planning, Turney blames iceberg calving from the continent colliding with the extended tongue of the Mertz Glacier for changing the sea ice conditions in the region.

    “He writes:

    “This has been revealed by new satellite imagery which arrived today from the AAD/ACE CRC Sea Ice Group in Hobart, Tasmania.”

    “It’s as if this was the first satellite image of ice they had looked at. It’s a mystery how there was no one was on board to monitor sea ice activity and that no one saw it coming. Turney also told FoxNews.com:

    We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

    Contrary to this claim by Turney, the expedition leaders and organisers surely knew all about the prevailing ice conditions in Commonwealth Bay. This is what they wrote about the likelihood of getting to Mawson’s Huts for prospective tourists:

    “Since 2010 it has not been possible to access Mawsons Huts by sea so there is some chance that we will also be stopped from accessing the huts….

    “It is important that you aware that this is not a regular tourist voyage to Mawsons Huts.

    “The heavy ice around these massive stranded icebergs does create a significant obstacle to our access to the huts. There is a real chance that we will not be able to get to the huts. We will not know the outcome until we are in position in Commonwealth Bay.

    “If you need to be sure you will get to the huts then this is probably not the voyage for you. In other words the outcome is highly uncertain, although we are quietly confident of success. It is a true scientific adventure in the best sense of the word and in the spirit of Mawson.”

    They knew exactly what they were sailing into. Trying to pretend they were surprised by the ice conditions and shifting the blame elsewhere must be strongly refuted by those seeking reimbursement. The whole story is not known yet but if the leaders of this foolhardy jamboree at the expense of others are implicated in the AM’s predicament then they or their sponsors must be held responsible.

    It should be remembered that the ship and the lives of the captain and crew are still in serious danger. The Kamov Ka 32 chopper and the icebreaker Xuelong is the only aircraft and ship available in that area capable of such a rescue. Those rescued are extremely lucky it was there. Only as recently as 2009 another Ka 32 from the Xuelong crashed in antarctica whilst resupplying a Chinese antarctic station.

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