Viking Cruises, which operates the cruiseship Viking Sky that landed in a major maritime drama last month, is donating NOK 1 million (USD 117,000) to Norway’s humanitarian organization aimed at saving lives at sea. It was among those responding after the cruiseship lost power and nearly grounded in stormy seas on March 23.
The donation is meant to thank the organization, Redningsselskapet, which sent vessels to the scene but was unable to approach the cruiseship with nearly 1,400 on board because waves were too high and the cruiseship was too unstable. Nearly 500 passengers, many of them elderly, had to be hoisted up to search and rescue helicopters from the military and public civilian services that hovered over the vessel and airlifted them to land. The massive rescue operation has won widespread acclaim, not least from passengers involved.
Torstein Hagen, the billionaire Norwegian shipowner who founded and controls Viking Cruises, has been criticized for avoiding the Norwegian taxes that funded the rescue effort by basing himself in Switzerland. He’s now ultimately behind the donation to the rescue organization that relies on both volunteer and public funding.
Rikke Lind, the former Labour Party politician who now heads the rescue service, expressed gratitude for the donation and said it would help fund equipment acquisition and training efforts aimed at mass evacuations. Investigations into the cause of the Viking Sky drama began immediately, with preliminary reports blaming the engine failure on low oil pressure.