A view of the Ocean Explorer, a Bahamas-flagged Norwegian cruise ship with 206 passengers and crew, which has run aground in northwestern Greenland, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. The 104.4-meter (343-foot) long and 18-meter (60 foot) wide Ocean Explorer ran aground on Monday in Alpefjord in the Northeast Greenland National Park. It’s the world’s largest and most northerly national park and is known for icebergs and the musk oxen that roam the coast. According to authorities no one on board was in danger and no damage has been reported. (SIRIUS/Joint Arctic Command via AP) (AP)
Four days after the grounding of a luxury ship off the Greenland coast, the local police have launched an investigation into the matter. The police will probe how the luxury cruise got stuck in the mud in a remote area of the Arctic island.
As part of the investigation, police officer on the boat is interviewing the crew and find out about any possible offense that occurred on the boat. Till now, no one has been charged or arrested, the police told Bloomberg.
For last four days, all attempts to free the stuck boat have gone in vain. The Ocean Explorer became stuck at about noon on Monday. Till now, three attempts have been made to free the vessels. All of them failed.
On Wednesday, a fishing boat was used to take out the ship, but the plan didn’t work because of high tide. Stranded passengers are safe and are not finding any difficulty. However, one couple on the ship tested positive for COVID-19. The two of them were isolated from the rest of the passengers and are not facing any health complication for now.
The ship has around 200 people on board, including passengers primarily from Australia. It’s wedged on the muddy seabed in the Alpefjord, roughly 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) northeast of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk. The closes navy vessel is on its way to be used in the rescue operation. However, it has had to reduce its speed due to bad weather. Moreover, it is expected to reach the scene on Friday evening, later than originally expected.
Increasing risk of tourism in Arctic areas
The vessel’s plight and delay in response highlights the hazards of tourism in Arctic areas. In such locations, distances are vast and help often days away. However, factors like witnessing majestic scenery of icebergs and the chance to spot rare creatures, such as polar bears, attract growing numbers of tourists.
The ship had at least twice tried to use high tide to float clear on its own. However, the strong suction, built out of the mud consisting of sediment, sand and slit, is keeping the boat intact. In online debate forums, Greenlanders were quick to point out that the green water in the fjord was a certain danger sign of glacier mud that a local seaman would know to avoid.