A cruise ship carrying 106 people – including 17 Britons – ran aground in Antarctica on Tuesday.

The Bahaman-flagged Ocean Nova became stuck in ice about one mile from the San Martin Argentine base, pushed by “extremely high winds” into craggy rocks, Quark Expeditions president Patrick Shaw said.

The Norwalk, Connecticut, company that operates the 240-foot long Danish-built ship said in a news release that “an initial assessment of damage indicated that there was no imminent danger and no threat to lives.”

“There is no sign of leakage of any kind from the vessel,” the company added.

Among the passengers and crew were: 21 Americans, 18 Filipinos, 17 Britons, seven Canadians, seven Australians, four Germans, five Irish, five South Africans, three Dutch, three New Zealanders, three Danish, two Argentines and one each from Switzerland, Romania, the Ukraine, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, Russia, Indonesia and Honduras.

The passengers were on their eighth day of a nearly two-week expedition exploring the polar circle that embarked from Ushuaia, Argentina`s southernmost city.

Ocean Nova officials informed the San Martin base that the ship should be able to break free on its own as the tide rises.

“We`re going to take all the passengers off to be extra safe,” Mr Shaw said.

A Spanish oceanographic ship, a transport ship and an Argentine plane have been sent to lend assistance if required, the Argentine and Chilean navies said.

"Everything is under control and there is no danger," the Argentine navy said in a statement. "There is no damage to the hull or loss of fuel."

Inspections of the ship may take some time, and the company wants passengers to be able to continue on their expedition, he said.

The Chilean and Argentine navy have dispatched the Spanish-flagged ship Hesperides and another vessel, the Clipper Adventure, to coordinate retrieval of the passengers.

Times Online