Steering glitch grounds cruise ship

Somerset County Gazette: The Black Watch cruise liner has been forced to dock off Chile because of mechanical problems The Black Watch cruise liner has been forced to dock off Chile because of mechanical problems

A cruise ship believed to be carrying hundreds of Britons on a round-the-world trip has been forced to stop near the tip of South America after suffering mechanical problems, its owners said.

The Black Watch, which set-sail from Southampton on January 14, has anchored off Chile while its steering gear is fixed, according to Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

It is the latest incident to affect the voyage, with the company confirming a passenger died after falling overboard 70-miles off the coast of Brazil on January 30 as it made its way south through the Atlantic.

And on a previous 12-night luxury cruise between Scotland, Scandinavia and St Petersburg last September, a round 130 people on the Black Watch caught a sickness and diarrhoea bug.

The vessel, which can hold 804 passengers, stopped near Isla Picton close to the Argentine border around 50 miles north of Cape Horn this morning, a spokeswoman for Suffolk-based Fred Olsen said, because of a "technical issue with the ship's steering gear".

"It was necessary to anchor the ship in order to investigate the problem, and this is now in the process of being rectified," she said.

"All the relevant authorities and port agent were informed of the need to anchor the ship in order to make the necessary investigations, and guests have been kept updated on developments throughout the day."

The ship is expected to continue its 114-night "South American and World Voyage" cruise after repairs are completed.

Its next port of call is Valparaiso in Chile, where it is expected to arrive on February 15.

According to the Fred Olsen website the 205 metre-long 28,613-ton ship carries a crew of 330 as well as passengers.

It says the vessel is "sleek and intimate" and was voted Best for Entertainment in the small ships category at the 2012 Cruise Critic website's Cruisers' Choice UK Awards.

The company spokeswoman said the passenger died after falling overboard in rough seas after the ship left Rio de Janeiro.

"The ship turned around immediately and returned to search the area," she said.

"A body was sighted floating in the water, but due to the bad sea conditions, with waves of up to three metres and 30-knot winds, it was not possible for the ship to recover the body.

"The circumstances of the incident are being investigated fully, and Fred Olsen is working closely with all the relevant international authorities.

"The guest's family have been informed."

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