"Viking Sky": Cruise ship is inspected for near misses
The "Viking Sky" was almost new and equipped to modern standards - but how could it almost come to disaster before Norway's coast? Investigators take now the on-board technology in the view.
It would have come to a devastating shipwreck before Norway: After an engine failure, the cruise ship "Viking Sky" drifted into stormy seas and threatened to run aground. Meanwhile, the almost 230-meter-long ship lies in the Norwegian port of Molde. Various investigation teams are just starting work: the Norwegian National Accident Board, the police, experts from the competent classification society Lloyds and others go on board.
It's about the question of what - or maybe who - was responsible for the near-disaster of the cruise ship off Norway's central west coast. In the meantime, the ship, which had fallen into distress on Saturday afternoon in the Hustadvika sea area, is said to have been only 100 meters away from dangerous underwater reefs. That's not even half a ship's length.
With up to five helicopters in a dramatic relief action 479 passengers were taken from board, about 20 of them were subsequently treated in the hospital. Eventually, the crew managed to fire three of the four engines again. The "Viking Sky" finally reached the rescue harbor on its own, with 436 guests and 458 crew members on board.
Video: Rescued by the "Viking Sky"
Nevertheless, the question arises how it could come to the problems. The "Viking Sky" built by Fincantieri in Italy was brand new and was only christened at the end of summer 2017. Among the experts who are now looking around inside the ship is also a team of four of the German engine manufacturer MAN, he supplied the drive of the ship.
The "Viking Sky" had a total of four four-stroke diesel engines of the type "32 / 44CR": two each 5040 kW strong units with nine cylinders, two other each even 6720 kW strong copies with twelve cylinders. They were housed in two separate engine rooms.
Small power plants on board
The propulsion of the ship is diesel-electric, that is: the two 4.5-meter, six-winged propellers, which are used in a control and propulsion system by Rolls Royce, do not get their energy directly from the engines. This is different than with container ships. Instead they drive a generator. This in turn generates electricity, which is then used for the two 7250 kW electric motors on the propellers.
You can imagine it as if the Crusader had his own little power plants on board, so to speak. And exactly - or in the connected power grid - there could have been problems.
The MAN experts would take up the work on Monday afternoon, said a company spokesman at the request of SPIEGEL: "The team will perform a technical analysis and find out what has happened." The sovereignty over the further information of the public lie then with Viking Cruises and / or the Norwegian authorities.
Several sister ships, some still under construction
On board the "Viking Sky" was actually proven and solid technology used, say experts. In this respect, the search for the cause will be particularly important - so that similar problems do not repeat on other ships with comparable equipment. The "Viking Sky" has five sister ships, six more are still being built.
They are all constructed according to a principle called "safe return to port". Roughly speaking, it means that - especially with such large ships - the passengers are best kept on board - and not in a small lifeboat. The technology on board is therefore actually designed so that even in case of a technical defect the journey to a rescue harbor should be possible on its own. The spread of fire or water penetration is prevented. Technical systems are designed so that the drive can be slowly continued, at least with one more drive.
Actually. Because that almost did not work in the current case. In the search for the causes, it will also be about the question why the on-board redundancy systems did not fulfill their task as intended. The redundancy principle is well-known in aviation and states that all important systems must be duplicated in order to cope with any failure of a system.
Reports of power outages on other Viking ships
It is well known that there are always power outages on cruise ships. Of the "Viking Sea", a sister ship of the now involved crusaders, there are two such reports from the year 2016. When such incidents occur in non-critical marine areas, but hardly anyone notes.
The "Viking Sky", however, was traveling in uncomfortable surroundings. The guests on board had been in the far north of Norway looking for the fascinating northern lights. On the way back from Tromsø to Stavanger, the ship had come into heavy seas, with at least eight meters high waves.
Video: That's what it looked like on board the "Viking Sky"
The Norwegian tabloid "VG" reports that other companies such as the Norwegian shipping company Hurtigruten had several ships as a precaution in different ports left until the weather improved again. However, the "Viking Sky" also had pilots on board, who knew about the area.
Insurer reports sinking ship losses
What exactly happened on board the "Viking Sky", it can currently only speculate. The problem could be the high load under which the engines have to be driven in bad weather. If problems then occur in the cooling system, shutdowns to protect the technology quickly threaten.
Cooling problems can be caused, for example, by the fact that the cooling water inlets are clogged - for example by floating plants in the water. Or by the fact that large quantities of air are sucked in in the wild lake instead of water. Then the cooling can fail - and the engines stop working.
However, the problems could also be based somewhere else - in the tanks. According to Norwegian media reports, the "Viking Sky" had 343 tons of heavy fuel oil and 465 tons of diesel on board. The contents of the not quite full fuel tanks could now have been churned up in the waves so that eventually either air or dirt landed in the fuel lines.
These are just a few of the ways that experts are currently discussing - also to prevent problems in the future. Shipping insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) said on Monday that ship losses worldwide have declined by more than a third over the last decade. This is due to improved ship design, new technology and advances in risk management and safety. Machine failure and breakage, however, remained a major cause of damage to marine insurance, the company said.