Cruise ship with passengers on board collided with an iceberg in Alaska

A cruise ship with passengers on board collided with an iceberg in Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line on Tuesday was forced to cancel the next sailing of its Norwegian Sun for 1,976 passengers. The reason was damage to the ship received over the weekend when it collided with a small iceberg near the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. The Norwegian Sun was on a nine-day voyage to Alaska from Seattle.

Last Saturday, June 25, the Norwegian was sailing towards the Hubbard Glacier in foggy conditions and unexpectedly bumped into something with the bow.

A small iceberg rose above the waterline by only a meter or even less — it would be difficult to see it from the captain's bridge, even in perfect visibility. The piece of ice turned out to be the size of a bus, but most of it was under water.

The cruise ship immediately turned around and headed to the nearest port of Juneau, Alaska, to assess the damage to the hull.

After a thorough examination, it was found that the ship needed repairs, which meant she needed to return to her home port of Seattle before continuing her summer cruise schedule in Alaska.

Norwegian representatives did not comment on the extent of damage to the vessel and the complexity of the repair. At the same time, the authorities confirmed that, in principle, it can be exploited.

Late Monday evening, the Norwegian Sun left the port of Juneau and should reach Seattle on Thursday. The US Coast Guard and local maritime authorities have given the ship clearance to proceed at a reduced speed. All guests currently on board will disembark in Seattle — end point of the journey.

All modern cruise ships are equipped with radar to detect objects floating in the water that could pose a danger. Moreover, crew members are on duty around the clock on the bridge, tasked with scanning the horizon for obstacles. But small icebergs, known as “growlers”, are almost impossible to detect with radar.

Cruise ships are designed to withstand damage from impacts with ice at sea, even when the ice breaks through the ship's hull, and water gets inside. All liners are built on the principle of isolated compartments, which allows them to stay afloat in the most critical situations.

The hulls of ships designed to operate in the polar regions are even stronger. They can collide with floating ice without any damage, run into ice sheets, and are even able to break through floating ice.

Remarkably, the piece of ice that the Norwegian Sun collided with over the weekend seems dwarfed by comparison. with icebergs that have gone down in history.

So, the iceberg that sank the Titanic in 1912, it was estimated to have risen 30 meters above the waterline and was 120 meters long, that is, it was 200 times the size of the “Norwegian”.

Serious shipwrecks involving icebergs are very rare in the modern era. It has been 63 years since a ship's passenger was last killed after a collision with an iceberg. In 1959, the Hans Hedtoft hit an ice floe, killing all 95 passengers and crew on a Danish cargo ship. It was his first trip off the coast of West Greenland.

All passengers on the interrupted flight will receive a full refund plus a future cruise credit of 100 percent of what they paid.

Passengers on the next cruise scheduled to begin on June 30 will receive a full refund plus a future credit of 50 percent, as well as up to $300 per person in compensation. 

The 2001-built Norwegian Sun — one of the oldest and smallest ships in the fleet. This is one of five Norwegian vessels currently sent to Alaska for the entire summer.

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