U.S., U.K. Join Norway in Investigating Viking Sky Engine Failure

viking sky at anchor
The cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019. Frank Einar Vatne/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

Maritime authorities in Norway, Britain and the United States have started investigating the loss of power on board the Viking Sky cruise ship which nearly led to its grounding along the west coast of Norway over the weekend.

The 2017-built luxury cruise ship had 1,378 passengers and crew on board when its engines failed and it drifted dangerously close to shore near the town of Hustadvika in stormy weather on Saturday afternoon. 

Amazingly, the ship was able to drop its anchor and restart power to one engine, which seems to have saved the ship from running aground along the rocky shoreline. The ship battled 6- to 8-meter waves as it fought its way into deeper water. All the while, rescue teams on board helicopters hoisted nearly 500 people to safety from the deck of the ship.

An ocean tug was eventually able to attach a tow line to the Viking Sky and tow it Molde, Norway, where the remaining passengers were disembarked on Sunday afternoon.

The investigation into the incident is being led by the Accident Investigation Board of Norway (AIBN), with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and U.K. Maritime Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) also participating.

“The past few days have been stressful and hectic for both guests and crew alike. I would like to personally apologize for what our guests experienced,” said Torstein Hagen, President of Viking Ocean Cruises. “I would also like to say how impressed and grateful I am for the efforts of the national rescue services, rescue personnel, local authorities and the people along the Møre coast, and thank them for the concern and generosity they have showed our guests. I would also like to express my thanks to the crew on board the Viking Sky for their efforts and dedication.”

Viking Ocean Cruises has launched its own internal investigation and says it welcomes and will fully support the investigations that have been launched, the company said in a statement. 

The Viking Sky is registered with the Norwegian International Ship Register.

The ship’s next sailing to Scandinavia and the Kiel Canal, which was scheduled to embark on March 27, has been cancelled. The company does not anticipate any additional cancellations.

The United States’ NTSB and Britain’s MAIB have joined the investigation due to the number of U.S. and U.K. nationals on board.

“The NTSB has dispatched two investigators to support the international investigation into the event that occurred Saturday, March 23, 2018, involving the Viking Sky,” the NTSB said in a statement provided to gCaptain. “This is a Substantially Interested State investigation into the event under the International Maritime Organization rules.  As such, Norway has asked the Coast Guard to support in the effort and the Coast Guard in turn has asked us to assist.  Our investigators, who should arrive in the next day, have expertise in Nautical and Engineering Operations.”

“We have deployed technical staff to support AIBN’s investigation into the loss of propulsion on the Viking Sky, 23 March 2019.” the MAIB wrote in a tweet on Monday. 

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