Cruise ship with 206 onboard stranded in Arctic
A luxury cruise ship with 206 passengers and crew onboard has run aground in a remote stretch of Greenland, remaining stuck even after high tide.
The Bahamas-flagged Norwegian ship Ocean Explorer got into trouble on Monday 11 September in Alpefjord in Northeast Greenland National Park. The vessel has not been able to free itself, according to a statement from Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command (JAC).
In a statement, Cmdr Brian Jensen from Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command said that nobody on board was in danger and that no damage had been reported.
“Our units are far away, and the weather can be very unfavourable,” he said, adding that officials “take this incident very seriously”.
Jensen confirmed that the atmosphere on the ship is good and everyone on board is unhurt. There is no indication the vessel is damaged.
Three passengers on board have Covid-19, tour agency Aurora Expeditions, the ship’s operator, announced on Thursday (14 September). The infected passengers are currently in isolation.
Northeast Greenland National Park is the world’s largest and most northerly national park, known for icebergs and the musk oxen that roam the coast.
When the news broke, the closest Danish navy ship, patrol vessel Knud Rasmussen, was about 1,200 nautical miles (1,380 miles or 2,200km) away. The vessel is currently heading to the site and is expected to reach the grounded ship to assist with the rescue by Friday (15 September 2023).
Personnel from the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a designated unit of the Danish Special Forces Command, have been onboard the grounded cruise ship.
“As soon as we realised that the Ocean Explorer could not get free on its own, we sent a ship towards the site,” says Jensen. “As soon as possible, we will also fly over the site to get fresh images to help us assess the situation.”
Ocean Explorer is 104 metres long and 18 metres wide. The ship was “purpose-built for expedition travel to the world’s most remote destinations,” according to the official website of Aurora Expeditions.
It’s understood the majority of people on board are Australian nationals.
There is still hope that the stranded cruise ship may be able to free itself on the next high tide, Greenland television KNR reported. “Regardless, the most important thing for us is that everyone gets to safety,” Jensen says.
Lis, a passenger on the cruise ship, told 9News she felt the covid situation was “contained” and that her biggest fear at the moment is running out of alcohol.
“That is the biggest concern I have,” she said.
Images courtesy of Joint Air Force/Arctic Command/SIRIUS