Viking Ocean Cruises 47,800gt ship Viking Sky issues a ‘Mayday’ call off the coast of Norway this morning.
Late Evening Update: There are 1,373 persons onboard. Of that, only 166 are ashore. The Norwegian rescue service has stated they will continue to airlift pax off so long as it’s needed.
10 pax are in the hospital with 3 having serious injuries.
Viking’s CEO Torstein Hagen will be arriving into Molde, Norway to meet the passengers ashore. He will not be speaking to the press until then.
The ship has partial power back and can confirm she is under some of her own propulsion power. Officers are navigating her on a westward track. She’s still making under 5 kts so they can evac pax. The plan, as of now, is to still continue with the evacuation and Norwegian authorities are planning like they must get everyone off until they’re told otherwise.
Viking has finally released a statement.
On March 23rd at 2:00 pm (Norwegian time) the Viking Sky experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway near Molde. Our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew, and in close cooperation with the Norwegian Coast Guard, the captain decided to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter. The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution. If you have questions or concerns about any guests onboard please call this number for US/AU booked guests 1-888-889-8837, and for UK booked guests 07585 779 853 or 0208 780 7900.
Here’s the latest from the scene.
One more thing I wanted to mention is that Viking Ocean Cruises has been unusually quiet all throughout this. Haven’t heard a peep from their PR firm or the line themself. An important part of PR damage control is getting out in front of the story and providing frequent, accurate updates. (Look at what Royal Caribbean and Carnival has done. Some of those are textbook!) It gives the sense that you’re in control and the situation may not be as it appears in the media. By Viking remaining silent so far, it really makes it difficult to steer the story anyway they wish.
Here’s the damage inside the ship:
And now another ship is in distress. JRCC has had to divert a helo to pick up 9 crew off of the Hagland Captain who had diverted to assist the ship but became propulsionless herself. She also reportedly lost cargo off her deck as well.
via CHC helicopters
Something doesn’t add up on all of this. She definitely seems seaworthy from this video and keep an eye off the stern of the ship. It appears they regained some propulsion given the port wake. Per SOLAS’s Safe Return To Port standards, the idea is that a cruise ships is so well designed now that she serves as her own lifeboat. Unless something isn’t being communicated at this point, (such as internal damage, breach of the hull, etc) they never should evacuate in this weather.
Norwegian Red Cross volunteers.
Volunteers from the Red Cross are in place to look after evacuees from cruise ship #VikingSky, off the coast of Norway. All Search and Rescue Teams have been mobilized in the entire region #Hustadvika @Hjelpekorps #RødeKors pic.twitter.com/CxNkkCX8W6— Norges Røde Kors (@rodekorsnorge) March 23, 2019
via Dagbladet (a Norwegian news source) helicopters are in fact evacuating pax off the ship. They’re arriving in groups of 10 – 20 per helo. A local sports hall has been set up as a shelter. Ironically the municipality of Fræna, where this is happening at, just had a meeting of their emergency and crisis preparedness groups so they feel well prepared for something like this. 5 pax have been transported to a local hospital.
The above video comes from a Norwegian news source.
Some additional photos from the scene. Looks like it’s too rough to launch her lifeboats, which I find strange that they still are risking an evac, so are using helicopters vis-à-vis the Oceanos.
This morning the 2016-built Viking Sky developed engine problems while in rough weather in the North Sea. As the situation got worse, what little propulsion she had became useless in the rough seas. Per maritime protocol, she dropped anchor to prevent any drifting to occur, however due to the worsening nature of the swells and current, she started dragging that anchor meaning she was still drifting. As she then started nearing the rocky coastline of Norway, the Captain made the decision to issue a mayday and sound the general alarm.
As a result, upwards of 1,300 passengers and crew were evacuated from the ship.
This is a developing story and updates will be posted at the top.