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Tumnus2010

MS VIking Sky troubles

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It’s an extraordinary step to take, evacuating 1000 passengers by helicopter.  All received wisdom is that it is generally safer to stay with the ship if at all possible.  They must have grave fears about what is going to happen to the ship to be doing this.

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4 minutes ago, Gareth said:

It’s an extraordinary step to take, evacuating 1000 passengers by helicopter.  All received wisdom is that it is generally safer to stay with the ship if at all possible.  They must have grave fears about what is going to happen to the ship to be doing this.

Totally agree. 1 by 1 - in that weather! It will take an age!

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France 24 was reporting that there is a tug in attendance and they have restarted one engine, pointed her into the wind and dropped the anchors to try and hold her in position. Ed. 

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2 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

France 24 was reporting that there is a tug in attendance and they have restarted one engine, pointed her into the wind and dropped the anchors to try and hold her in position. Ed. 

Yes the BBC news footage showed her wash, but still at anchor. Surely with one engine at 85-100% though she would make some headway?

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It highlights the problems of getting a lot of people off a ship in a limited time. And Viking Sky is a comparitive minnow compared with many modern vessels.

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Approx 2km from the shore, hence the urgency. Ship to ship transfers not possible in the sea conditions. Thankfully the oil industry means there are lots of suitable helicopters in the area.

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Still an absolute last resort.  Vessel must be / have been in imminent danger of grounding on the rocks.  Wonder whose decision it was - captain or coastguard?

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After speaking to a friend who works in the industry - The 'Viking Sky' is currently being towed by tugs and assisted vessels although it's unclear where the ship is heading. Stavanger was her next port of call but she's rumoured to be heading to Kristensund.

Edited by TonyMWeaver

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These are amongst the very few modern cruise ships which (to me) are appealing in size and not finished in appallingly bad taste. Bit shocking to see some of the on board videos. e.g.

 

Edited by hhvferry
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Wow, obviously asking people to stop moving around the vessel is the best way to avoid further injuries but when you've got pianos and (what looks like a) a flower bed sliding around, it doesn't help. For vessels operating in those latitudes, you'd think everything would be screwed down just in case. I hope the evacuation continues without any further injuries. Ed. 

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The really worrying issue, that will have to be publically addressed, is exactly why a modern, well founded vessel such as this loses all four engines at the same time. hmm

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It's a diesel electric ship. The diesels generate electricity to power motors for propulsion and for all shipboard facilities. The whole setup depends on a sophisticated distribution and load bearing system.

If something serious goes wrong it can cause power surges which can overload the switching system causing it to shut down so the ship is without power except for an emergency diesel generator in the superstructure. Normally it should be possible to reset the main system although this can take some time but sometimes major damage can occur burning out the distribution gear which takes a lot longer to fix and may even not be possible at sea.

This sort of thing has happened to many cruise ships over the last few years including the QM2. Usually an hour or so without power in the middle of the ocean isn't too much of a problem but in this case the vessel was just a couple of miles offshore in very rough weather so there was very little time to sort the problem out.

I hope some lessons will be learned as what we had here was a small cruise ship with less than 1000 passengers in an area with good rescue facilities but they were still only able to evacuate a couple of hundred or so people by all accounts. The thought of a a big ship with 5000 passengers onboard in a remote location (and some of these ships go down to the Antarctic) doesn't bear thinking about.

There could have been a very bad outcome.

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From the reports it is possible to hazard a guess as to what might have happened.

All four engines would only normally be used if the ship is travelling at full speed. Most of the time only three may be running at sea. This saves fuel and enables in service manintenance to be carried out on the engines in turn.

It was reported that immediately before the power went out there was a lot of noise and vibration so perhaps one of the engines suffered severe mechanical damage. This then caused a sudden electrical load imbalance which shut down power and maybe took the other two operating engines offline. It is said they managed to get one engine started and this could have been the 4th engine but that would have given only limited power and the switchboard might have had to be jury rigged. The fact that the ship is now proceeding on three engines suggests that the remaining two good ones have been brought back online but that the one that caused the problem is non operational.

Just my guess anyway! Think Wight Sky - similar situation in principle.

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Sounds like a catastrophe has been averted here.  But was a close call.  Thanks for your thoughts in the engine issues Colin - sounds very plausible.

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The BBC is reporting that they have got around 500 passengers off so far. If the sea conditions are that bad, the flying conditions must be equally challenging and those evacuated owe the skilful pilots a big thank you. It was fortunate that it happened relatively close to shore to allow such a rapid shuttling back and forth and in an area well used to helicopter operations. Ed.

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It was because it happened so close to shore that there was a need to take people off in the first place.  Had it been far out in open sea there would have been no danger at all and no need to evacuate.

I have heard it reported that the ship is now sailing under own power into port, so the need for evacuation has passed.

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I've read that she was in 10m waves and half the ships length away from grounding.

Anthem of the Seas was in similar conditions back in 2016 and struggled badly too... fitted with diesel electric power. If we consider that the Royal Caribbean ship is pushing 170,000 tonnes and nearly 350 metres long, far larger than Viking Sky, Gareth hit the nail firmly on the head. A catastrophe luckily averted.

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23 minutes ago, Gareth said:

It was because it happened so close to shore that there was a need to take people off in the first place.

That's perhaps true but without any assurance that they would be able to start the engines (and with several injured passengers) an evacuation might nevertheless have become necessary and then would have been even more challenging than it undoubtedly has been. Ed. 

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4 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

That's perhaps true but without any assurance that they would be able to start the engines (and with several injured passengers) an evacuation might nevertheless have become necessary and then would have been even more challenging than it undoubtedly has been. Ed. 

There would be absolutely no need - passengers are much safer on the ship than being airlifted off by helicopter.

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Yes, I know the SOLAS regulations about Safe Return to Port state that passengers are safer if they remain on board while the vessel seeks shelter, and that's clearly logical. But I understand that is supposed to be carried out under her own power. If that is in any doubt, no matter where the vessel is situated, and the master has concerns about his ability to regain control of the ship then presumably an evacuation is the most prudent course of action. Anyway, whatever the situation, the report will as usual make for interesting reading. Ed. 

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The only circumstances in which a mass evacuation of passengers from a ship would be considered appropriate would be if there is a risk to life in not doing so.  Ships can drift out at sea quite happily for days without risk to safety.  Might be a bit uncomfortable, without way being made and without effective stabilisation (as is seen in the video).  But uncomfortable is not justification for the risks associated with a helicopter evacuation.

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41 minutes ago, Gareth said:

There would be absolutely no need - passengers are much safer on the ship than being airlifted off by helicopter.

Remember the Penlee lifeboat disaster, they were ready to take the woman and children off but they felt safer on the Union Star than a small lifeboat, until it was to late.  Always plan for the worst and hope it doesn't happen.

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