Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yacht BERSERK tragedy ends in fine for skipper

Jarle Andhøy has accepted the NOK 25.000 fine.

Jarle Andhøy, expedition leader and skipper on the Berserk, has been fined $ 4.500. He accepted the fine ”solely for the sake of the relatives” and because he doesn't want more "noise" around the incident, he told media.

The Berserk sailed in to the Ross Sea and landed near the Scott base in February. Andhøy and a fellow expedition member drove towards the South Pole on ATVs, while the three remaining crew waited in the area for their return.

A violent hurricane in the ice-infested waters ended the expedition, and the Berserk was reported missing. A big search and rescue operation only found an empty life raft. Norwegians Robert Skaane and Tom Gisle Bellika, and South African Leonard J. Banks were lost.

The Ross Sea is an exposed stretch of water where storms and hurricanes are common, and sailing yachts rarely venture. Berserk was in the area late in the season. In a previous interview with ExplorersWeb Jarle said the crew was experienced and he was in contact with them daily when skiing on the ice. The last sms from them read, "All good. Boat shipshape and we are now leaving Horseshoe Bay... contact us when you can."

In August Andhøy asked relatives of Skaane, Belika and Banks for permission to do a TV documentary about the expedition and disaster. Two of the mothers turned the request down because they “didn’t want their sons deaths to be entertainment” and they “didn’t want anyone to make money on the tragedy”.

Friday Troms police fined Andhøy NOK 25 000 for not reporting to the Norwegian Polar Institute before the expedition, failing to prepare a preliminary environmental impact assessment, and for lacking adequate SAR insurance.

During the investigation Andhøy denied to be questioned by the police and has accepted the fine.

"I think it's very good to get this matter out of the world. I have accepted the fine to spare the relatives of the accident," he told Dagbladet.

A high profile sailor in Norway, Jarle Andhøy has appeared on several TV shows and made headlines in the news before. In a bear-whisperer incident Jarle was fined for disturbing Polar Bears on Svalbard. A trip through the Northwest Passage was cut short when Canadian authorities cuffed and put Andhøy on a plane back to Norway for suspected smuggling of a crew member who had been deported on charges of being member of the Hells Angels.

BERSERK tragedy - and and BERSERK website:

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