Stranded Luxury Cruise Ship Carrying 206 Passengers is Pulled Free by Fishing Vessel in Greenland— Covid Cases Reported On Board
On September 12, a Norwegian cruise ship called the Ocean Explorer ran aground in northwestern Greenland. All 206 passengers and crew were trapped on the vessel as they nervously awaited help.
Several attempts were made to rescue the stranded cruise ship, but options were quickly running thin. Luckily, there’s good news: On September 14, the Joint Arctic Command announced that the ship has been successfully freed.
What Exactly Happened to the Ocean Explorer?
When a sea vessel such as the Ocean Explorer “runs aground,” it unintentionally comes in contact with the bottom of the ocean.
If the water is too shallow to support the depth of the cruise ship, it can become lodged in one spot. In the case of the Ocean Explorer, the 342-foot-long and 60-foot-wide ship’s only hope was to be pulled free by a larger vessel or to wait for a change in tide to dislodge it from being stuck. Let’s take a look at the obstacles faced while attempting to free this ship.
Freeing Stranded Ships Can Be a Complex Process
The Bahamas-flagged luxury cruise ship ran aground while traveling through Greenland. While nobody on board was hurt, it was still a race against the clock to help the passengers and crew aboard the ship.
Commander Brian Jensen of the Joint Arctic Command spoke of the stressful situation, revealing how challenging certain aspects of the rescue had been. “Our units are far away, and the weather can be very unfavorable,” he said.
Options Were Running Thin
With the closest Danish navy ship being more than 1,380 miles away, there were few ways to free the Ocean Explorer from its position.
At this point, all the passengers and crew members aboard the ship could do is wait until help arrived. The Danish navy ship would take days to reach the site of the stuck cruise ship. Commander Jensen said that everyone was doing what they could to remedy the situation and that officials were taking it “very seriously.”
Cruise Ship Passengers Were in an Unexpected Situation
Everything was going smoothly on the Ocean Explorer until it ran aground in Alpefjord in the Northeast Greenland National Park.
Alpefjord Captain Flemming Madsen of the Danish Joint Arctic Command even joked about the stranded ship. Speaking of the paying passengers aboard the Ocean Explorer who were expecting a relaxing vacation, he said, “All I can say is that they got a lifetime experience.”
The Cruise Ship’s Parent Company Released a Statement
Aurora Expeditions, the Australian-based company that operates the cruise ship, released a statement pertaining to the trapped Ocean Explorer cruise ship.
“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer from its grounding,” the statement said. “Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety.” If all else fails, officials are banking on the cruise ship being set free by the high tide.
No Damage to the Cruise Ship Was Reported
While being stranded at sea certainly wasn’t ideal, the good news is that nobody was hurt and the cruise ship remained intact.
SunStone Ships of Copenhagen and the Joint Arctic Command were expected to band together in an effort to finally set the stationary ship free. After some inspection, the organizations said in a statement, “There have not been any injuries to anybody onboard, no pollution of the environment and no breach of the hull.”
At Least Three Cases of COVID-19 Had Been Reported
As the vessel sat above the Arctic Circle in the world’s northernmost national park, multiple cases of COVID-19 had been reported. Coronavirus is highly transmittable, and being confined to the Ocean Explorer meant that everyone aboard could catch the illness.
Aurora Expeditions revealed that the infected passengers had been kept away from the others on board. “These passengers are currently in isolation. They are looked after by our onboard doctor, medical team and crew, and they are doing well,” the company said in a statement.
A Danish Naval Unit Visited the Stranded Passengers
In case of an actual emergency, the Joint Arctic Command came up with a plan.
Other ships were stationed nearby and “if the need arises, personnel from the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol can be at the accident site within an hour and a half.” As people on the ship awaited their rescue, members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol had already visited the passengers to quell everyone’s nerves. According to reports, the visit “calmed them down as some were anxious.”
More Details About What Was Aboard the Cruise Ship
The Ocean Explorer cruise ship was said to have passengers from all over the world. Guests aboard the vessel hailed from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Steven Fraser of Australia was aboard the ship. In an interview with reporters, he revealed, “Everyone’s in good spirits. It’s a little bit frustrating, but we are in a beautiful part of the world.” The Ocean Explorer has 77 cabins, 151 beds for passengers, and 99 beds for crew members.
How Was the Ocean Explorer Freed?
Denmark’s military Joint Arctic Command (JAC) revealed on Thursday, September 14 that a fishing research ship had successfully pulled the Ocean Explorer free.
Thankfully, the ship, surrounding water, and the passengers aboard the vessel remained out of harm’s way. Tarajoq, the research vessel that freed the Ocean Explorer, had already been involved in several earlier attempts to rescue the ship.
SunStone, the cruise ship’s owner, released a statement saying, “The vessel and its passengers will now be positioned to a port where the vessel’s bottom damages can be assessed, and the passengers will be taken to a port from which they can be flown back home.”
Despite what would typically be considered a stress-inducing incident, all 206 passengers were in relatively good spirits during the time they spent stranded. However, it’s no surprise that the passengers are eager and thankful for their safe return home.