WASHINGTON, Apr 18 (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 today.
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 yesterday.
Weather and sea conditions were harsh, with winds gusting between 20 and 40 knots, equivalent to 23 miles (37 km) to 46 miles (74 km) an hour, seas building to 20 feet (6 meters) 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 US 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 said.
REUTERS SC PM0235