Viking Cruises chair Torstein Hagen blames skipper for sailing in rough weatherWorld | 25 Mar 2019 11:20 am
Viking Ocean Cruises, the company that owns and operates the ship Viking Sky, said 20 people were injured and received treatment at medical centers.
The airlift evacuation went all through the night and into Sunday morning, slowing for a bit when two of the five rescue helicopters had to be diverted to save nine crew members from a nearby ailing cargo ship.
In all, 479 passengers were airlifted to land, leaving 436 passengers and 458 crew members onboard, the company said, when the Viking Sky’s captain decided on a new plan.
Einar Knudsen of Norway’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center said the airlift was halted when the captain decided before noon yesterday to try to bring the cruise ship to the nearby port of Molde on its own engines.
"The conditions were good enough for the captain to have no more evacuations,” Knudsen told the AP.
Three of the ship’s four engines were working so a tug boat and two other vessels assisted the Viking Sky as it slowly headed to Molde under its own power. It finally docked at the port late Sunday afternoon, the cruise company said.
The Viking Oceans Cruise company said the ship’s next scheduled trip, to Scandinavia and Germany that was to leave on Wednesday, was cancelled. Norway’s Accident Investigations Board said the ship would remain in Molde, pending an investigation.
The Viking Sky was a relatively new ship, delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.
It had left for a 12-day cruise from the southern Norwegian city of Bergen, visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso and Bodo before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames. The passengers were mostly an English-speaking mix of American, British, Canadian, New Zealand and Australian citizens.
Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen praised the rescue operation by Norwegian authorities and the actions of the vessel’s crew.
He told the VG newspaper that the events surrounding the Viking Sky were "some of the worst I have been involved in, but now it looks like it’s going well in the end and that we’ve been lucky.”
Shipping tycoon Hagen is one of Norway’s richest men and the founder of the Switzerland-based Viking Cruises that operates river and ocean cruises.
"I’m very proud of our crew,” Hagen told VG.
When asked why the cruise ship ventured into an area known for its rough waters in the middle of a storm that had been forecast by meteorologists, Knudsen, from Norway’s rescue service, said it was the captain’s decision to proceed with the cruise.-AP