A Norwegian probe into the cause of injuries and a fatality on board a Norwegian-registered cruiseship last year has determined that the vessel’s windows were “under-dimensioned.” That’s why they cracked when hit by a powerful wave, allowing frigid Antarctic water to crash into passenger cabins, leaving one person dead and others injured.
The cruiseship Viking Polaris, home-based in Bergen, was sailing on a so-called “expedition cruise” off the coast of Argentina on November 29 last year when it was hit by a huge wave southeast of Cape Horn. The wave knocked out the large windows of seven cabins, causing massive damage. One passenger was killed and eight others injured.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Wednesday that Norway’s accident investigations board (Havarikommisjonen) has now concluded that the pressure from the wave was much stronger than the windows were designed to tolerate. The windows were “under-dimensioned,” reported NRK, because they didn’t tolerate the wave’s pressure.
The board noted that strong waves are probable in the rough waters of the Drake Passage linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. That must be taken into consideration by all shipping lines operating in the area, the probe concluded, raising concerns that current design standards (which the ship had met) aren’t strong enough.
The board has sent a recommendation to both the Norwegian maritime directorate and the vessel’s owner, Viking Expedition Ship II Ltd, that standards should be changed. “This is probably a worldwide challenge” for the shipping industry, Dag Liseth of the accident investigation board told NRK.