By Viktoria Ristanovic
Nation & World Editor
On March 25, Norwegian authorities launched an investigation on why the Viking Ocean Cruises cruise ship set sail despite storm warnings and why it experienced a power blackout while out at sea. The Norwegian Maritime Authority has been consulting with the cruise line and Lloyd’s, the “ships classification society,” to discern why the situation happened, according to USA Today.
Lars Alvestad, head of the NMA, reported that low levels of oil were the “‘direct cause”’ of the engine failure that left the cruise ship stranded on March 23, reported USA Today.
However, the NMA stated in a press release that while the oil levels were indeed low, they were “within set limits,” USA Today wrote. Due to the stormy weather, the movement of the oil tanks triggered an alarm. Media outlets in Norway also reported that winds reached up to 43 mph and waves reached over 26 feet.
According to NBC News, the crew sent out a mayday call and authorities initiated a rescue operation involving a team of helicopters airlifting 479 passengers out of the nearly 1,300 people on board.
After regaining engine power on March 24, the ship was aided by two supply ships and a tug vessel. It finally sailed into the Norwegian port of Molde, freeing the remaining 436 passengers and crew of 458 on Sunday, CNN reported. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo sent out “a consular team to Mold” to help evacuate U.S. citizens who were on the ship.
Viking Ocean Cruises reported that there were 20 people who sustained injuries and were being treated at “medical facilities in Norway or had already been discharged,” according to CNN.
One of the passengers, Rodney Horgen, reported his experience on the ship to The Associated Press. “‘When the windows and door flew open and the (six feet) of water swept people and tables 20 to 30 feet that was the breaker.
I said to myself, “This is it,”’” Horgen explained, according to the AP. “‘I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave coming back.’”
According to NBC News, the operator revealed on Sunday that the cruise line’s next trip to Scandinavia and Germany, which had been scheduled to leave on March 27, was canceled.