Viking Sky evacuation under way in storm off western Norway

Viking Sky is deployed on a new winter Arctic program Viking Sky is deployed on a new winter Arctic program FILE PHOTO

Rescue helicopters were evacuating people from Viking Sky after the cruise ship lost engine power in a storm off Norway's west coast on Saturday afternoon.

The ship reportedly sent a mayday call as it drifted toward land, however the crew eventually managed to secure it by anchor, according to the Associated Press.

One engine is working, and a tug is on site

One engine is reportedly now operational.

'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,' Viking Cruises said in a statement. 'The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site.'

1,373 passengers and crew

Some 915 passengers and 458 crew were aboard the ship, which is near Molde.

People were being hoisted one by one into rescue helicopters. By 8 p.m. local time, 115 had been evacuated, according to Norway's VG newspaper, which said the operation was expected to continue throughout the night. The paper reported winds at 38 knots.

'Small number of non-life-threatening injuries'

'The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution,' Viking Cruises' statement continued. 'A small number of non-life-threatening injuries have been reported. Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests.'

Viking has dispatched a team including company owner Torstein Hagen to Molde.

The line has posted numbers here where friends and family can call for information.

Viking Sky was traveling from Tromsø to Stavanger when it lost engine power at 2 p.m. Norwegian time.

Passengers 'frightened but calm'

Evacuated passenger Dereck Browne, interviewed in a VG video, described being frightened and not knowing if the ship would capsize. As for the mood on board: 'People were alarmed. Many were frightened. But they were calm.' He called the helicopter evacuation 'quite exciting,' adding that fortunately, the airport was close. He saw two people taken off by stretcher.

Esther Browne described the staff response as 'excellent. They were very good, There were plenty of staff around the whole time, and they really did look after you.'

New winter Arctic route

The 47,800gt Viking Sky entered service in 2017. It is deployed on a new winter Arctic program, 'In Search of the Northern Lights,' which began in January.

See March 24 update, 'Viking Sky has docked at Molde with 20 injuries reported'

 

Posted 23 March 2019

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review