OSLO, March 27 (Reuters) – The engines of a luxury cruise ship that narrowly escaped disaster during a storm off Norway on Saturday failed because of relatively low levels of lubricating oil in the engines, the Norwegian Maritime Authority said on Wednesday.
The Viking Sky, with almost 1,400 passengers and crew aboard, sent out a mayday signal on Saturday as it drifted in rough waters in the Norwegian Sea to within 100 meters of land. All four engines had failed, but crew managed to restart one of the engines just in time.
“Our conclusion is that the engine failure was directly caused by low oil pressure,” the Norwegian Maritime Authority said in a statement.
“The level of lubricating oil in the tanks was within set limits, however relatively low, when the vessel started to cross Hustadvika,” it added, referring to the stretch of water where the incident happened.
The heavy seas probably caused movements in the tanks so large that the supply to the lubricating oil pumps stopped, the regulator said.
This triggered an alarm indicating a low level of lubricating oil, which in turn caused an automatic shutdown of the engines.
Rescue services airlifted 479 people, hoisting them one-by-one onto helicopters, before the weather subsided on Sunday and a tow could begin.
Built in 2017, the ship belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises, part of the Viking Cruises group. It acknowledged the probe’s findings in full, it said on Wednesday.
“We have inspected the levels on all our sister ships and are now revising our procedures to ensure that this issue could not be repeated,” Viking Ocean Cruises was quoted as saying in the statement by the Norwegian Maritime Authority.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Viking Sky left the port of Molde, where it had been anchored since Sunday, for repairs at a shipyard in Kristiansund, some 70 km (43.5 miles) away. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Toby Chopra)
The Norwegian Maritime Authority’s full statement is below:
Last night, the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) granted the company a permit to sail on a single voyage to Kristiansund to have necessary repairs made. Throughout the night, the NMA has worked together with the ship’s classification society, Lloyd’s, and the company in order to identify the reason why the Viking Sky suffered power “blackout” at Hustadvika in challenging weather conditions on Saturday 23 March.
For the present, our conclusion is that the engine failure was directly caused by low oil pressure. The level of lubricating oil in the tanks was within set limits, however relatively low, when the vessel started to cross Hustadvika. The tanks were provided with level alarms, however these had not been triggered at this time. The heavy seas in Hustadvika probably caused movements in the tanks so large that the supply to the lubricating oil pumps stopped. This triggered an alarm indicating a low level of lubrication oil, which in turn shortly thereafter caused an automatic shutdown of the engines.
The NMA has drawn up a general safety notice about ensuring a continuous supply of lubricating oil to engines and other critical systems in poor weather conditions. This should be done in cooperation with the engine supplier and, moreover, be included in the ship’s risk assessments in the safety management system.
Viking Ocean Cruises has made the following statement: “We welcome the prompt and efficient investigation carried out by the NMA and we fully understand and acknowledge their findings. We have inspected the levels on all our sister ships and are now revising our procedures to ensure that this issue could not be repeated. We will continue to work with our partners and the regulatory bodies in supporting them with the ongoing investigations,”
Norwegian Maritime Authority is in a continuous dialogue with the company and classification society, and this cooperation has been successful. We will follow up the ongoing work to rectify damages on vessels. Furthermore, we will continue the constructive dialogue with the classification society, company and the Accident Investigation Board Norway in order to reveal underlying causes and identify appropriate measures.
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