After suffering engine failure in 3 out of 4 of its engines and nearly smashing into rocks in heavy seas off Norway, the Viking Sky cruise ship has safely reached the port of Molde, Norway. But not before a second vessel nearly came to grief.
Viking Sky reached the port of Molde with the help of two offshore supply vessels and one tug at 4.30pm 24 March local time, after narrowly running aground on rocks in heavy seas.
All 1300 crew and passengers survived the two day ordeal as the vessel’s engine failed and it floundered in heavy seas off Norway’s western coast.
Coast guard official Emil Heggelund told local press he estimated the 47842 tonne vessel was only 100 metres from striking rocks under the water and 900 metes from shore when it stopped and anchored in Hustadvika Bay.
Eight metre waves made it impossible to rescue anyone by boat, with passengers airlifted out by helicopter over the weekend.
The rescue was slowed by helicopters having to be diverted to save nine crew from a nearby cargo ship.
Norwegian rescue authorities reported the cargo vessel Hagland Captain ran into trouble when trying to respond to the Viking Sky May Day. All nine crew had to be rescued when the dwt 4699 freighter experienced an engine seizure in the same wild seas.
Viking Cruises chairman and shipowner Torstein Hagen praised the action of crew and the Norwegian authorities rescue operation.
“I’m very proud of our crew” he told local press.
However questions are being asked why the captain made the decision to venture into rough waters in the middle of a storm forecast by meteorologists.
The crew managed to restart one of the engines and head for sure on Sunday.
“Throughout all of this, our first priority was for the safety and well-being of our passengers and our crew,” a statement posted on the company website said. “We would like to thank the Norwegian Redningssentral and the Norwegian emergency services for their support and skill displayed in managing the situation in very challenging weather conditions.”
Viking Ocean Cruises report 20 people were injured during the ordeal – it was said they suffered broken bones, bruises and cuts.
One passenger described how a wave crashed through the ship’s glass doors and swept his wife nine metres across the floor. Videos of tables and chairs skidding as the vessel was rocked and pounded by waves were shared on social media. However all remaining 479 passengers and 458 crew on board returned with the vessel safely.