15 Feb 2015

Fishing vessel no longer being towed

9:50 pm on 15 February 2015

A fishing vessel that was being towed after being trapped by ice in the Southern Ocean is now using its own power to reach open water.

The Polar Star alongside the Antarctic Chieftain.

Members of the military dive team aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star launch a remote operated vehicle into the water to inspect the disabled fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain. Photo: US Coast Guard / George Degener

The crew of the damaged Antarctic Chieftain had been stuck in the ice since they damaged their propellor last Wednesday.

An American icebreaker the Polar Star began towing the Antarctic Chieftain yesterday, but a spokesperson for Maritime New Zealand said the vessel was now making its own way.

The vessel is expected to reach open water tomorrow morning, and if all goes well may be able to make the journey back to New Zealand under its own power.

Half the 26 crew on the Antarctic Chieftain, are New Zealanders.

The vessel was licensed to harvest Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean.

It sails under an Australian flag and is operated by Australian Longline, which is half-owned by Sealord.

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