A small expedition cruiseship with 20 people on board grounded in the Fuglefjord in Svalbard’s northwestern region Tuesday morning. Authorities reported that a fuel tank was punctured but the extent of fuel spillage was unclear.
It’s environmentalists’ worst nightmare, that expedition ships sailing in pristine and sensitive Arctic waters can be involved in accidents. Fuglefjord is part of the Northwest-Spitsbergen National Park. State broadcaster NRK reported that a Norwegian patrol ship was in the area and immediately sailed to the site of the MS Virgo’s grounding.
The 46-year-old vessel, rebuilt in 1992 and refurbished in 2021, was boarded by one of the patrol ship’s crew, who reported that 13 passengers and seven crew members were on board. There were no injuries and the Virgo (now pictured as the MS Quest on its operator’s website) reportedly had loosened itself from where it grounded.
“The extent of the damage and the spill is still unknown,” 1st Lt Taina Schogster Bjørkås told NRK. The vessel has spill control equipment on board. Bjørkås said it was too early to determine the reason for the grounding.