April 18, 2006

Antarctic ship’s crew member missing, presumed dead

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A crew member of an Antarctic
research ship was missing and presumed dead after apparently
falling overboard in rough weather, the National Science
Foundation said on Tuesday.

The foundation's research vessel Laurence M. Gould was
traveling from Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula to
Punta Arenas, Chile, when the crewman was discovered missing on

Weather and sea conditions were harsh, with winds gusting
between 20 and 40 knots, equivalent to 23 miles to 46 miles an
hour, seas building to 20 feet with rain and snow, the
foundation said in a statement.

The crew member was identified as Joshua Spillane, 31, a
marine technician who has worked for 10 years in the U.S.
Antarctic program.

Spillane, an employee of Raytheon Polar Services Co. of
Centennial, Colorado, has been involved in more than 30 cruises
aboard the Gould and its sister ship, company spokeswoman
Valerie Carroll said in a telephone interview.

"They were making a routine transit from Palmer Station to
Punta Arenas, transporting passengers and cargo," Carroll said.

After Spillane was found to be missing, she said, "The ship
did an about-face and they're doing grid-pattern searching
right now."

Argentina and Chile are helping with the search, Carroll