Authorities in Norway want to know why a cruise ship carrying more than 1,300 passengers decided to set sail despite warnings of stormy weather. The cruise ship Viking Sky suffered engine trouble Saturday off the Norwegian coast prompting a major rescue operation.
Now, maritime investigators in Norway, Britain and the United States are looking into why all four engines on board the Viking Sky cruise ship failed while crossing a stormy stretch of Norway’s western coast.
Investigators also want to know why the captain of the 2017-built luxury liner, carrying 1,373 passengers, decided to even venture into a storm that had been forecast for days.
California passenger Susan Dollberg and 600 other Americans were part of a 12-day northern lights cruise when the idyllic tour turned into a nightmare at sea on Saturday.
“As the day went on, the seas got rougher and rougher. The ship was tipping at 45 degree angle on each side,” said Susan Dollberg from Novato, California.
Video posted online from people on the ship showed the vessel violently swaying, with chairs and other furniture dangerously rolling from side to side.
The crew issued a mayday call as wind gusts up to 43 miles-per-hour and 26-foot waves slammed the vessel.
With passengers wearing orange life vests, the crew decided to anchor in the rough seas to avoid being dashed and potentially run aground along the rocky shoreline less than 300 feet away.
“We were in our cabin and everything was sliding everything everywhere and breaking and crashing and we could hardly move or walk,” recalled Dollberg.
Shortly after the mayday call went out, rescue teams on helicopters launched a dramatic mission to airlift the stranded passengers.
Battling high winds and waves, rescuers brought 450 people safely to dry land.
Among those airlifted – vacationer Danny Bates and his wife. “We went up on a helicopter with a sling, the two of us together and it was quite scary,” said Danny and Judith Bates.
Passengers praised the work of the ship’s crew.
“I will tell you the crew aboard this vessel was amazing to us,” said passenger David Hernandez. “They kept calm, they kept everyone else calm.”
Two cargo ships and one tug boat eventually towed the cruise liner to the port of Molde late Sunday afternoon where all remaining passengers where evacuated.
Seventeen people were hospitalized with injuries.