Marine salvage expert Nick Sloane says the iceberg would have to be 1,000 metres long, 500 metres wide, 250 metres deep and weigh around 125 million tonnes.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on June 7, 2019

A professional marine salvage expert wants to steal an iceberg from Antarctica and melt it into drinking water for his drought-stricken country.

Nick Sloane, who recently supervised the refloating of capsized Italian cruise ship the Costa Concordia, wants to tow a 125 million ton iceberg to South Africa and melt it for drinking water, Bloomberg reported.

Cape Town was gripped by a severe drought in 2017 and nearly ran out of water, and the city of four million people – which is Sloane’s home – still has restrictions of 70 litres per day.

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“My wife used to take a bath every night and a shower every morning. She told me, ‘You’d better do something’,” 56-year-old Sloane said.

“To make it economically feasible, the iceberg will have to be big.”

Sloane said it would need to be 1000 metres long, 500 metres wide, 250 metres deep and weigh around 125 million tonnes.

“That would supply about 20 per cent of Cape Town’s water needs for a year,” Sloane said.

Nick Sloane

Sloane has reportedly assembled a crack team of glaciologists, oceanographers and engineers to bag the iceberg.

He has secured funding from a group of financiers to fund his ‘Southern Ice Project’.

The entire mission is expected to cost upwards of $200 million (£158 million).

This will largely be funded by two South African banks and a Swiss water tech firm called Water Vision AG, the report claims.

Sloane now needs to secure an agreement with South Africa for the nation to buy the Antarctic water.

“We’ll never get back to the days where water is flowing all over the Cape,” he said.

“If the taps run dry, the first day people will be standing in lines at watering points throughout the city.
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“The second day, if you don’t get your water, well, people are killed for that.”

Sloane says he would be able to charter the ships and prepare the mission within six months.

However, the mission wouldn’t be able to take place until November or December, when “the Antarctic climate is somewhat less ferocious”.

“We’re taking on all the risk. We’re ready to go,” he said.

Icebergs have been harvested before. In the mid-1800s, breweries in Chile towed small ones, sometimes outfitted with sails, from Laguna San Rafael to Valparaiso, where they were used for refrigeration. In the late 1940s, John Isaacs of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography began exploring more fantastical plans, such as transporting an 8 billion-ton iceberg to San Diego to mitigate California droughts. In the 1960s oil companies began using thick ropes to wrangle and redirect much smaller Arctic icebergs before they collided with rigs, a practice that has become common.