Low oil pressure blamed for ship’s stall

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Norway’s maritime directorate has determined that low oil pressure caused all four engines on the ill-fated cruiseship Viking Sky to stall last Saturday, leaving it adrift and dangerously close to grounding in stormy seas with nearly 1,400 people on board. 

“The level of lubricating oil in the tanks was within limits but relatively low when the vessel sailed into Hustadvika,” acting Maritime Director Lars Alvestad said at a press conference. Alvestad said that the stormy seas of Hustadvika (a stretch of water between Kristiansund and Molde that’s known for being rough) probably led to such major movement in the tanks that the lubrication pump lost its supply capability.

That set off an alarm of low lubrication, which in turn led to an automatic shutdown of the engine after a short period. The Viking Sky then lost all power in the strong winds and stormy seas and came close to grounding, setting of a dramatic evacuation of passengers by helicopters.

Teams of inspectors from the maritime directorate, Norway’s state accident investigations board, the vessel’s management and classification society and other authorities have been on board the ship since Sunday, when it finally reached Molde after engines were restarted. They remained on board as the vessel was towed on Wednesday to a shipyard back in Kristiansund for necessary repairs.

That involved another trip over Hustadvika, but the weather was better than it was last weekend. Another storm was predicted to move in Thursday, so it was important to get the vessel to the yard before that.

Alvestad said Norway’s maritime authorities have been in “continous dialogue” with the vessel’s owners and classification society. He claimed they were cooperating well.

Viking Cruises, founded by Norwegian shipowner Torstein Hagen, issued a statement that it appreciated the quick and efficient investigation and both “understood and accepted” its findings. The company said that oil pressure levels were being inspected on all ships in the cruiseline’s fleet to ensure that the problem wouldn’t occur again.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund