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The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

Grounded Expedition Cruise Ship Remains Stuck in Remote Greenland Fjord

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 9765
September 13, 2023

An expedition cruise ship with 206 people on board remains stuck in a remote Greenland fjord after initial attempts to refloat the vessel failed.

The MS Ocean Explorer ran aground Tuesday in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park. Currently the ship remains stable with no threats to the environment or safety to those onboard and no indications that the ship has suffered serious damage to its hull.

While there are other vessels in the area, none are powerful enough to pull the cruise ship free. Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command (JAC) said it has sent the Knud Rasmussen, an offshore patrol vessel with the Royal Danish Navy, which is due to arrive Friday evening following a 1,200-nautical-mile voyage to assist.

The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command
The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

An initial attempt to refloat the vessel at high tide early Wednesday, using Ocean Explorer’s own power, was unsuccessful. A second refloating attempt using Greenland’s Institute of Nature’s research ship Tarajoq was also unsuccessful, the JAC said in an update.

“Getting the inspection vessel KNUD RASMUSSEN to the accident site is still the Arctic Command’s first priority. The crew in KNUD RASMUSSEN is doing their best to get there as soon as possible. Due to the weather in the area where KNUD RASMUSSEN is, the ship has had to slow down a bit,” the JAC’s update said.

The Ocean Explorer is an ‘Infinity-class’ expedition cruise ship owned by SunStone Ships and built in 2021 by Ulstein at its partner yard China Merchants Heavy Industries (CMHI). The vessel measures 104.4-meters in length and can accommodate 165 passengers and up to 300 included crew. The Infinity-class previously made headlines for being the first cruise ships to feature the X-Bow from Ulstein.

The MS Ocean Explorer aground in the Northeast Greenland National Park in Greenland, September 12, 2023. Photo credit: Air Force/Arctic Command
The MS Ocean Explorer aground in the Northeast Greenland National Park in Greenland, September 12, 2023. Photo credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

The vessel is currently operated by a subsidiary of Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, which acquired the business of its former operator Vantage Deluxe Travel last month as part of bankruptcy proceedings.

“There is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel or the surrounding environment,” Aurora said in a statement.

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