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Viking Sky position, adrift off Norway Coast and evacuating Passengers & Crew

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Some interesting discussion here. I think at this point, however, I will let this go since it can easily become - as was stated earlier in this thread - a sort of "armchair quarterback" (or is it armchair captain?) situation...can go around and around with it and be  no closer to the actual truth of why certain decisions were made and what the upshot will be in terms of modifications to designs and protocols. Might find out more about that on the next trip with Viking!  All that being said, I do tend to side with Michelle's thoughts in her 2nd last paragraph relative to the Sky's captain. Undoubtedly having been on the ship and being airlifted certainly affects my thinking on it.

 

ALL praise, though, to the bravery, skill, etc. of the CHC crews and pilots AND to the hospitality, kindness, and helpfulness of all the other Norwegian authorities, volunteers, hotel staff, etc. who were mobilized for the rescue effort and gave of themselves for us. Can't say enough good things. Same for the Sky crew who did everything they could to keep people as comfortable as possible while awaiting either evac or for those who stayed onboard. 

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3 hours ago, gretschwhtfalcon said:

 

I am not an engineer, but have a decent amount of mechanical experience - not that that counts for anything of course relative to this event; however, I still fail to understand - even after all the explanations that were given here - why there is not some sort of failsafe system that would prevent engine shutdown if the ship experiences in excess of 25 or whatever degree of roll and/or in the event that the sump pumps temporarily suck air. I realize there is imminent danger to the engine even if without lubricating oil for even less than a minute...but still....just doesn't seem like the best design. 

 

I'd like to know how does the engine setup (relative to the oil level  / sensors, etc.) that Viking uses compare to what other cruise lines use? Is the Viking design uniform across the industry? 

 

I believe Cheng discussed this prior (as you alluded to):

On 4/1/2019 at 9:50 AM, chengkp75 said:

This means the pump is no longer supplying lubricating oil to a running machine, and if this condition exists for more than a couple of seconds, you can have catastrophic failure of the engine (with no hope of restarting it until you've done an overhaul that costs $250,000 or more).  This is why the "low oil pressure" alarm (caused by the air in the oil system) has no override, overriding it can lead to total loss of the engine and perhaps the ship, because when an engine like this fails, it can cause a serious fire as was the case in the Carnival Splendor fire.

 

I’ll defer to the experts on whether Viking’s design is uniform or why there isn’t some sort of “failsafe”.

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1 hour ago, Silkroad said:

Have you read this entire thread? If not, you should. My DH is also an engineer. Neither of you are experts on marine engines, engineering room procedures, or bridge protocol. Unlike you, my DH realizes these areas are outside his areas of expertise. Rather, he prefers to defer to experts like Chengkp (a ship engineer) and the two retired Captains who have also posted on this thread. Then there is the Norwegian entity that has investigated this incident. They are qualified to make pronouncements about the decisions made by Viking and the Captain. You are not.

 

I think we need to distinguish technical experts from people who were on the ship or customers of Viking who just want reassurance they will be safe on their next cruise.  There is no reason to be nasty to people just expressing their opinion or asking a question.  If Viking can never be questioned, then there is something wrong.

 

My opinion only.  I am not a maritime expert.

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As a Viking customer, I hope Chairman Hagen concludes something other than the “Swiss cheese” theory explains why this incident occurred. “Something like this shouldn't happen," Hagen said, talking to Norwegian media network TV2. "But it has."

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Posted (edited)

I'm sure the investigation has been quite thorough - at least I would hope so - but doubt that much will reach the public, especially relative to the captain's decision (and/or whomever else may have been a part of the decision) to sail that day knowing (presumably) the forecasted bad weather.

 

I heard those words directly from Mr. Hagen at our meeting in Kristiansand and, at the time, found it rather unsatisfactory. Later, hearing the investigative reports about the engine oil situation, I felt that most likely that is all we're going to hear. I was a teacher, and if any of the inquiry following the 23rd works like the public school district, significant problems were typically dealt with internally and never reach the news media. Probably the same in most places. So quite honestly I don't expect we'll hear much more about it. Would love to know, however, in what way this incident had an impact on the captain's future with Viking, etc. Depends, of course, on what was said behind closed doors I suppose. 

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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5 hours ago, gretschwhtfalcon said:

I'm sure the investigation has been quite thorough - at least I would hope so - but doubt that much will reach the public, especially relative to the captain's decision (and/or whomever else may have been a part of the decision) to sail that day knowing (presumably) the forecasted bad weather.

 

I heard those words directly from Mr. Hagen at our meeting in Kristiansand and, at the time, found it rather unsatisfactory. Later, hearing the investigative reports about the engine oil situation, I felt that most likely that is all we're going to hear. I was a teacher, and if any of the inquiry following the 23rd works like the public school district, significant problems were typically dealt with internally and never reach the news media. Probably the same in most places. So quite honestly I don't expect we'll hear much more about it. Would love to know, however, in what way this incident had an impact on the captain's future with Viking, etc. Depends, of course, on what was said behind closed doors I suppose. 

You may be accurate in this observation. If this the case, it is unsatisfactory to me as a consumer in the digital economy. While you and all the others aboard the Sky were experiencing your harrowing ordeal, much of it was playing out over social media. That can’t be undone. Social media has changed business, enough so that many graduate business programs offer an MBA Degree in Social Media. I sail with Viking in less than 30 days, albeit on a different ship in the Mediterranean. If this is only handled internally and Viking doesn’t address the decision to sail into that cyclone, they may lose me as a customer. I get that stuff happens and risk attends everything. But as a consumer I must trust the companies I choose to deal with, and not all companies are created equal. I don’t demand perfection but I do desire transparency. I’ve learned much from this incident and particularly from this thread. While I expect many may not agree with my observation, it appears the cruise industry and the international maritime organizations operate as guild protecting its own interests. I mean this in the medieval sense. 

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Okay, let me weigh in again here.

 

First, about lifeboats, the statement by a crewmember that the boats could not be launched due to lack of power, was made by a crew member whose only statutory safety training is a 4 hour "personal safety and social conscious" course.  Lifeboats can be launched with no power, either using stored hydraulic energy or gravity.  I will agree with Capt_BJ that the reason the boats were not launched was the weather.  This is especially true for cruise ship lifeboats, as these are equipped with "off load release" mechanisms.  This means that as long as the weight of the boat is on the wires, you cannot release the boat from the wires, preventing any accidents by operating the release lever before the boat is lowered, with attendant severe injuries and fatalities.  Only when the boat is supported by water, and the weight is no longer on the wires, will the release lever work.  However, in a seaway, there is the possibility of one end of the boat being supported by a wave, and the other end being above the trough of the wave, and supported by the wires.  In this case, the end in the water might release, and the other end not release, and leave the boat hanging from just one wire as the wave passes, dumping everyone in the boat to one end.

 

As for the engine/sump tank design, the ability to operate to 25* rolling is an international standard, as spelled out in SOLAS, so all ships are designed this way.  As for the Captain "knowing" that the ship would roll 25*, while also pitching, in the exact weather conditions that he hadn't yet encountered, this is fatuous.  No one knows how a ship will react to weather until you actually experience that weather, and I mean the exact circumstances and locations.

 

As for the Captain's future with Viking, so long as he followed the internationally and nationally (Norwegian) recognized ISM policies and procedures as contained in Viking's ISM, then there can be no "blame" attached to him or his decision.  Now, whether Viking feels they need to change their ISM procedures for bridge management in heavy weather sailing is a different discussion.

 

With regards to transparency, do the airlines publish the maintenance records or investigation findings every time a plane is jerked from service when a pre-flight walk-around or checklist finds a problem?  I've never seen one.  As for expecting transparency in the maritime world, based on your experiences in the US, that is one aspect of cruising that most folks don't understand until something like this comes up.  You are not in Kansas anymore, and the laws, protections, freedom of information, and "rights" that you have come to expect, do not apply outside the US, and these ships are definitely outside the US, even when homeporting there.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, gretschwhtfalcon said:

I'm sure the investigation has been quite thorough - at least I would hope so - but doubt that much will reach the public,

 

There will I am sure be an internal Company investigation however I would hope that there will be an investigation by the Norwegian Maritime Authority. This would be made public. It may be for example that since there were no deaths that such an investigation may not be triggered however it would astonish me if there was not such an investigation in this case. The very presence of a safety investigation may make it impossible for the Company to say much for the moment, I am not sure.

 

I am not familiar with the exact rules but Close Things are routinely investigated in the aviation world. Here for example is an Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into an instance where a commercial airliner with passengers on board landed safely at the wrong airport.

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5422f88ae5274a1317000729/Airbus_A320__EI-DIJ_01-07.pdf

 

Persons on Board: Crew - 6 Passengers - 39

Injuries: Crew - None Passengers - None

 

Such reports often take a year or sometimes much more to produce.

 

Here are a couple of marine ones. Sadly in each case members of the crew died, in one case the entire crew. There were no passengers on board. The investigations and reports are very detailed.

 

https://www.theartofdredging.com/Investigation_Report_18_04.pdf
46pp - M.V. ROCKNES
19 January 2004

NOT the original source. Haven't looked for it. Occurred in Norwegian waters but investigated and reported by authorities of registration.

 

Main report is - NTSB/MAR-17/01 
https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/accidentreports/reports/mar1701.pdf
300 pages - El Faro

National Transportation Safety Board

 

Finally, for what it's worth, my (fairly uninformed) guess is that it will be found that the engine lubrication oil system left something to be desired. Perhaps a simple calibration error of the oil quantity gauges or a more serious design or construction problem. Or ...

 

 

Edited by Spring Ford

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4 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

Okay, let me weigh in again here.

 

First, about lifeboats, the statement by a crewmember that the boats could not be launched due to lack of power, was made by a crew member whose only statutory safety training is a 4 hour "personal safety and social conscious" course.  Lifeboats can be launched with no power, either using stored hydraulic energy or gravity.  I will agree with Capt_BJ that the reason the boats were not launched was the weather.  This is especially true for cruise ship lifeboats, as these are equipped with "off load release" mechanisms.  This means that as long as the weight of the boat is on the wires, you cannot release the boat from the wires, preventing any accidents by operating the release lever before the boat is lowered, with attendant severe injuries and fatalities.  Only when the boat is supported by water, and the weight is no longer on the wires, will the release lever work.  However, in a seaway, there is the possibility of one end of the boat being supported by a wave, and the other end being above the trough of the wave, and supported by the wires.  In this case, the end in the water might release, and the other end not release, and leave the boat hanging from just one wire as the wave passes, dumping everyone in the boat to one end.

 

As for the engine/sump tank design, the ability to operate to 25* rolling is an international standard, as spelled out in SOLAS, so all ships are designed this way.  As for the Captain "knowing" that the ship would roll 25*, while also pitching, in the exact weather conditions that he hadn't yet encountered, this is fatuous.  No one knows how a ship will react to weather until you actually experience that weather, and I mean the exact circumstances and locations.

 

As for the Captain's future with Viking, so long as he followed the internationally and nationally (Norwegian) recognized ISM policies and procedures as contained in Viking's ISM, then there can be no "blame" attached to him or his decision.  Now, whether Viking feels they need to change their ISM procedures for bridge management in heavy weather sailing is a different discussion.

 

With regards to transparency, do the airlines publish the maintenance records or investigation findings every time a plane is jerked from service when a pre-flight walk-around or checklist finds a problem?  I've never seen one.  As for expecting transparency in the maritime world, based on your experiences in the US, that is one aspect of cruising that most folks don't understand until something like this comes up.  You are not in Kansas anymore, and the laws, protections, freedom of information, and "rights" that you have come to expect, do not apply outside the US, and these ships are definitely outside the US, even when homeporting there.

And another fact affecting launching the boats is that the ship was very near a rocky lee shore.  Without doubt some or all of the boats would have been swept onto the rocks by the heavy seas.  Lifeboats are powered but with modest diesel power and their design offers a high degree of windage with very little draft.  In other words, in the conditions present at the time the boats would assuredly be driven down wind and down sea on to the rocky shore with terrible results. The Captain certainly made the correct call concerning the boats.

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For Spring Ford, there has been an investigation by the Norwegian Maritime Authority, though their final report has not been reported, and depending on Norwegian law, it might not be published.  Disclosure laws vary by country.

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32 minutes ago, chengkp75 said:

I call lifeboats"cinder blocks with an engine".

Haha, or Clorox bottles with engines...

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Posted (edited)

Spring Ford....thanks for sharing those reports. Indeed most interesting. Amazing level of detail. As you mentioned, extremely unfortunate results with the two marine instances.  😞

I have to admit I'm with you on the engine oil system as possibly benefiting from some sort of safeguard and/or modification. I guess, adhering to the 'swiss cheese' model that has been discussed here, we probably ran into a 'perfect storm' scenario where so many factors all worked together to ultimately produce such a precarious mayday situation. The odds against it happening are probably quite high, but still.....

 

 

Chengkp...as always great info as well. 

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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I'm not sure why so many are beating up the captain, especially since the various investigations have not been completed/published.

 

Personally I would rather have a captain that has successfully handled such a situation than not. Real life experience is a precious commodity.

 

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21 hours ago, Hanoj said:

As a Viking customer, I hope Chairman Hagen concludes something other than the “Swiss cheese” theory explains why this incident occurred. “Something like this shouldn't happen," Hagen said, talking to Norwegian media network TV2. "But it has."

 

That sounds like an honest statement to me. If he said "we'll make sure it won't happen again" he'd be lying. Maybe they'll change something now to fix this problem, but surely there will be another ship adrift because of a complete different set of circumstances.

 

I don't know much about maritime things, but I can relate to Hagen. My company keeps backups of data in three different locations, one of which being the most secure location in the country that has a permanent spinning flywheel to generate back up power within seconds, and even has contracts to bring in diesel by boat in case of a flood. I mean, we really do try to make sure no data gets lost. Anyway, recently we found that the backups of one client were simply not made because of a spelling error, and the system that should check the backups was configured with the exact same spelling error made by someone else. So, no backups and nobody noticed for years. Luckily, there was one hole missing in the cheese, we didn't need the backup. Actually, we never needed a backup in 15 years. Just one more hole and we'd be in the news. Hagen can say that they put more people on safety, invested more in alarm systems, whatever, but he cannot promise it won't happen again. 

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12 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

With regards to transparency, do the airlines publish the maintenance records or investigation findings every time a plane is jerked from service when a pre-flight walk-around or checklist finds a problem?  I've never seen one. 

This is actually analogous to decisions “unsung heroes” make when choosing to avoid sailing directly into a cyclone or something similar. Discretion is the better part of valor. 

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Posted (edited)

Hanoj...I do sympathize with your thoughts; however, once again we're back to the same basic question - should the Sky have sailed or not. This can be bandied back and forth forever with likely no answer ever forthcoming. Passengers who wound up in the hospital with injuries likely have a unique perspective on what should or should not have taken place that afternoon. Those, like myself, who were airlifted - while it being one of the scariest things I've ever done - can accept that it really was the only way to "safely" evacuate (I use quotes since it is undoubtedly true that helicopter rescue is not without considerable risk), and so we did what we had to, trusting in the captain's decision (at least at the time anyway) as being the correct one. At the time, none of us knew the full extent of the potential danger that the Sky was in - which is probably a good thing. Knowing now that we came quite close to what may well have been a disastrous outcome also affords a different perspective than what we had while waiting in line for 3 hours with our life vests on - with, I might add, no clear idea of exactly how we were going to get from deck 8 up to the helicopter until we actually got outside.  From the perspective of the crew and staff, they, too, undoubtedly felt they were following the correct procedures given the situation.

 

All that being said, however, I'd love to see either a video or written log of all that was said and done on the bridge beginning Saturday morning until Sunday morning. Viking certainly has a good deal of experience sailing in Scandinavian waters, but of course this past season was the first sailing to the arctic. So it becomes easy to surmise (though perhaps not true) that Viking has insufficient experience coping with the sort of conditions we had. Knowing what other (if any) similar weather situations Viking has dealt with could be instructive, particularly whether or not they have much sailing experience in other dangerous areas similar to Hustadvika and, if so, how effectively it was handled. NOW they know how bad it can get there, so hopefully can deal with it in the safest possible manner in the event of another cyclone or similar.

 

I don't recall much being said as to whether or not the Sky takes on an additional pilot when sailing in certain areas? I know when the Celebrity Infinity sailed from Ushuaia to Antarctica, at some point an ice pilot boarded. I'm sure there are different regulations regarding this sort of thing depending on the destination. Others here, especially chengkp, would know alot more about that. 

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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