Norway investigating ‘high risk’ decision to expose cruise ship to storm

Norwegian officials have opened an investigation into why a cruise ship carrying more than 1,300 people set sail despite storm warnings, forcing a major evacuation after a mayday call had been issued.

Dag S. Liseth of Norway’s Accident Investigations Board said: “The high risk which the ship, its passengers and crew were exposed to made us decide to investigate the incident.”

The Viking Sky is now docked in the port city of Molde, which it eventually managed to reach on its own engines after a daring rescue operation in which 479 passengers were airlifted to land.

The Viking Sky had engine trouble on Saturday afternoon off Hustadvika, just north of Molde, and sent out a mayday call.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The cruise ship Viking Sky arrives at port in Molde (Svein Ove Ekornesvag/AP)</figcaption>
The cruise ship Viking Sky arrives at port in Molde (Svein Ove Ekornesvag/AP)

The ship was drifting toward the rocky coast.

Many shipwrecks have occurred in the area through the years.

The airlift evacuation went all through Saturday 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.

Mr Liseth said investigators were heading to Molde on Monday and declined to speculate as to why the Viking Sky captain had decided to sail despite the weather warning.

He could not immediately say how long the ship would remain in Molde.

Yngve Skovly of the police in Molde’s Moere and Romsdal district, said there was no suspicion of a criminal offence.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>The cruise ship Viking Sky arriving at Molde (Svein Ove Ekornesvag/AP)</figcaption>
The cruise ship Viking Sky arriving at Molde (Svein Ove Ekornesvag/AP)

The Viking Sky is a relatively new ship, delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

The ship was on a 12-day cruise along Norway’s coast before its scheduled arrival on 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.

On Sunday, the operator said the ship’s next scheduled trip, to Scandinavia and Germany, that was to leave on Wednesday, was cancelled.

Calls to Viking Ocean Cruises on Monday were not immediately returned.

- Press Association

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