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News Release 19-003

Antarctic research vessel to deliver ailing individual to British research station

Participant in the Thwaites Glacier research cruise to be flown from Rothera Station to South America

The NSF-chartered research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer.

The NSF-chartered research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer.

February 15, 2019

Acting on the advice of medical experts, National Science Foundation (NSF) officials have directed the NSF-chartered research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer to put ashore a person in need of a level of care not available aboard the ship. The Palmer, which is at sea in Antarctic waters, will divert to the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Station.

After arriving at Rothera, the patient will be flown to Punta Arenas, Chile.

The Palmer is on a first, extended research cruise related to the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. The collaboration is investigating the state of a rapidly changing glacier roughly the same size as Florida.

NSF is not revealing the name or other identifying information about the patient.

The Palmer is making its way as fast as is safely possible to reach Rothera and is expected to arrive early next week. Although conditions in the Antarctic can change rapidly, ice conditions currently look favorable for the transit, as do the local seas.

NSF may release additional information as circumstances warrant.


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7530, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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