Third attempt fails to free luxury cruise ship that ran aground in Greenland

A view of the Ocean Explorer, a Bahamas-flagged Norwegian cruise ship with 206 passengers and crew, which has run aground in northwestern Greenland is pictured 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. Another attempt to pull free a luxury cruise ship with 206 people that ran aground in the worlds northernmost national park has failed by using the high tide. It was the third attempt to free the MV Ocean Explorer. (SIRIUS/Joint Arctic Command via AP)

(SIRIUS/Joint Arctic Command / Associated Press)

Third attempt fails to free luxury cruise ship that ran aground in Greenland

Sept. 14, 2023

Another attempt to pull free a Bahamas-flagged luxury cruise ship carrying 206 people that ran aground in the worlds northernmost national park in Greenland has failed after trying to use the high tide, authorities said.

It was the third attempt to free the MV Ocean Explorer. Earlier this week, the cruise ship made two failed attempts to float free on its own during high tide.

The cruise ship ran aground above the Arctic Circle on Monday in Alpefjord, which is in Northeast Greenland National Park. The park encompasses almost as much land as France and Spain combined, and about 80% is permanently covered by an ice sheet. Alpefjord sits about 150 miles away from the closest settlement, Ittoqqortoormiit, which itself is nearly 870 miles from the countrys capital, Nuuk.

The Greenland Nature Institutes fisheries research vessel Tarajoq attempted to pull the Ocean Explorer free at high tide Wednesday morning.

Unfortunately, the attempt was not successful, said the Danish Joint Arctic Command, which was coordinating the operation to free the cruise ship.

In a statement, the Arctic Commands first priority was to have its larger inspection vessel, the Knud Rasmussen, reach the site, saying the ship was expected Friday in the evening as it had to slow down a bit on its way because of the weather.

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The cruise ship is operated by Australia-based Aurora Expeditions and has passengers from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Britain and the U.S. It has an inverted bow, shaped like the one on a submarine. It has 77 cabins, 151 passenger beds and 99 beds for crew, and several restaurants.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a retired Australian couple, Steven Fraser and Gina Hill, as saying there were a lot of wealthy older people on board.

Everyones in good spirits. Its a little bit frustrating, but we are in a beautiful part of the world,” Fraser told the paper.

We do have a couple of cases of COVID, but theres a doctor on board, he said, adding that he himself had come down with COVID-19 on the ship.

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The Arctic Command earlier had said there were other ships in the vicinity of the stranded cruise liner. So are members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a Danish naval unit that conducts long-range reconnaissance and enforces Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness. The latter visited the ship Tuesday and reported that everyone on board was fine and no damage to the vessel had been reported.

Greenland newspaper Sermitsiaq said that police in Greenland were investigating why the ship ran aground and whether any laws had been violated. So far, no one has been charged or arrested. According to the daily, citing a police statement, an officer had been on board the cruise ship to carry out initial investigative steps, which, among other things, involve questioning the crew and other relevant persons on board.

The primary mission of the Joint Arctic Command is to ensure Danish sovereignty by monitoring the area around the Faeroe Islands and Greenland, including the Arctic Ocean in the north. Greenland is a semi-independent territory that is part of the Danish realm, as are the Faeroe Islands.