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

by Lucas Garcia
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Greenland Cruise Ship Stranded

The third attempt to free the Bahamas-flagged luxury cruise ship MV Ocean Explorer, which is carrying 206 passengers and ran aground in Greenland’s northernmost national park, has proven unsuccessful, according to authorities. This marks the latest in a series of unsuccessful efforts to dislodge the vessel during high tides.

The incident unfolded when the cruise ship became stranded above the Arctic Circle in Alpefjord, situated within the expansive Northeast Greenland National Park. Notably, this park covers a landmass nearly equivalent to the combined areas of France and Spain, with approximately 80% of its expanse permanently covered by an ice sheet. Remarkably remote, Alpefjord is approximately 240 kilometers (149 miles) away from the nearest settlement, Ittoqqortoormiit, itself located nearly 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from Greenland’s capital, Nuuk.

In an effort to free the Ocean Explorer, the Greenland Nature Institute’s fisheries research vessel Tarajoq attempted to do so during high tide on Wednesday morning. Regrettably, this endeavor did not yield the desired results, as reported by the Danish Joint Arctic Command, which has been overseeing the operation to salvage the cruise ship.

The Arctic Command has now shifted its focus to the arrival of the larger inspection vessel Knud Rasmussen, expected at the site on Friday evening, albeit with a slightly delayed schedule due to adverse weather conditions.

Operated by Australia-based Aurora Expeditions, the MV Ocean Explorer carries passengers from various countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The vessel features a unique inverted bow design, akin to a submarine, and boasts 77 cabins, 151 passenger beds, 99 crew beds, and multiple restaurants.

Onboard, the cruise ship houses a diverse group of passengers, including, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, a retired Australian couple named Steven Fraser and Gina Hill. Despite the challenging situation, Fraser noted that spirits remained high among the “wealthy older people” on board. He mentioned that although there were a few cases of COVID-19 on the ship, there was a medical professional available to provide care. Fraser himself had contracted COVID-19 while on board.

It is worth mentioning that other vessels and the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a Danish naval unit responsible for Arctic wilderness reconnaissance and enforcing Danish sovereignty in the region, have been in close proximity to the stranded cruise liner. A visit by the latter on Tuesday confirmed the well-being of all individuals on board and reported no damage to the vessel.

The overarching mission of the Joint Arctic Command encompasses safeguarding Danish sovereignty by monitoring areas around the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, and the Arctic Ocean in the north. Greenland, a semi-independent territory, is an integral part of the Danish realm, as are the Faeroe Islands.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Greenland Cruise Ship Stranded

What caused the luxury cruise ship MV Ocean Explorer to become stranded in Greenland?

The MV Ocean Explorer ran aground in Greenland due to unspecified reasons, leading to its stranding in the remote Northeast Greenland National Park.

How many passengers were on board the cruise ship?

The luxury cruise ship was carrying 206 passengers at the time it ran aground in Greenland.

What were the previous attempts to free the stranded cruise ship?

There were two earlier unsuccessful attempts to float the MV Ocean Explorer free during high tide before the third attempt was reported as a failure.

What is the current condition of the passengers and the ship?

As per reports, everyone on board the stranded cruise ship is fine, and there have been no reported damages to the vessel.

Who is coordinating the rescue operation?

The Danish Joint Arctic Command is coordinating the operation to free the cruise ship stranded in Greenland.

What is the primary mission of the Joint Arctic Command?

The primary mission of the Joint Arctic Command is to ensure Danish sovereignty by monitoring areas around the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, and the Arctic Ocean in the north.

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