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Luxury cruise ship Viking Sky evacuation underway off Norway in heavy seas

UPDATE: Viking Sky has safely reached port in Molde, Norway with the assistance of two tugs and three of her four engines.

Three passengers are reported to have been seriously injured and have been hospitalised, while the air evacuation has been suspended and the remaining passengers will disembark in port.

Torstein Hagen, CEO and chairman of Viking Ocean Cruises, will meet the ship when she docks.

Viking Sky is making for Molde, Norway, where her remaining passengers will disembark

What follows below was written last night during the initial mayday.

The 900-passenger luxury cruise ship Viking Sky has issued an SOS off the coast of Norway due to engine failure in heavy seas, passengers and crew are currently being airlifted off the ship.

According to Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Sky issued a distress call at 1pm local time Saturday amid high winds and rough seas.

“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 line said in a statement.

She suffered total engine failure and was drifting toward the treacherously rocky Norwegian coast.

The captain sounded a general emergency and asked passengers and crew to assemble in their muster stations. Here are two videos showing the moment the general emergency alarms went off:

With little to no headway, the ship turned beam on to the 10-metre (32ft) seas and began to roll heavily.

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Norwegian authorities have scrambled helicopters to airlift passengers from the ship. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute says some waves are more than 10 metres high.

Although one engine has since been brought back online, allowing the ship to make headway at around 3 knots, the evacuation is continuing out of an abundance of caution.

During the night, a wave stove-in one of the doors to the outdoor decks, creating limited flooding in one of the lounges.

Norway’s sea rescue agency says five helicopters are taking passengers off the ship in groups of ten to fifteen at a time, while several cargo ships are maintaining station to lend assistance if necessary.

One of those ships, a general cargo freighter called the Hagland Captain, itself suffered mechanical failure in the rough seas and had to be evacuated via airlift.

At the time of writing, it is understood that 115 people have been evacuated from the ship thus far.

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Norwegian emergency services say that passengers are being accommodated at a local sports hall and in hotels in the area, with eight minor injuries reported.

Viking Sky was sailing a 13-night cruise from Bergen to London and most passengers on-board are British and American.

The ship departed Bodo, Norway on the 22nd and was due to arrive in Stavanger, Norway early Sunday when the storm hit.

Five helicopters are evacuating 900 passengers and 400 crew from the ship

She is making some headway off the town of Farstad near Molde on the country’s western coast at the time of writing, according to MarineTraffic.com.

This was later confirmed by Viking.

“The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution,” the line said.

The area is known as the Hustadvika and is reportedly one of the most dangerous stretches of Norway’s coast.

Viking Sky is one of six identical cruise ships operated by Viking Ocean Cruises, which until now had never experienced any safety related incidents at sea.

The cruise line will sail from Durban in South Africa for the first time aboard Viking Sun and is reported to be actively considering cruising from Dubai as it expands its fleet.

1 reply »

  1. This is truly heartbreaking…i really hope everyone and also the ship are alright… you’re all in our prayers and thoughts…God will always watch over you 💚😢

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