Ocean Explorer, one of the small expedition cruise ships designed to reach some of the most remote areas of the globe, grounded on Monday, 11 September, in a remote part of Greenland. The cruise ship is reportedly not in imminent danger while the Danish Navy-led Arctic Command coordinates with the Icelandic Coastguard and other partners to develop a rescue plan.
The 104-metre (343ft) long and 18-metre-wide Ocean Explorer ran aground on Monday in Alpefjord in the Northeast Greenland National Park. It is the world’s largest and most northerly national park known for icebergs and the musk oxen that roam the coast.
Commander Brian Jensen of Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command said that nobody on board was in danger and that no damage had been reported but added that officials “take this incident very seriously”.
“Our units are far away, and the weather can be very unfavourable,” he said in a statement.
The closest Danish navy ship was about 1,200 nautical miles (1,380 miles or 2,200km) away, he said, adding it was heading to the site and could be expected at the grounded ship as soon as Friday with the command noting that this depends on the weather.
According to reports, the area where the cruise ship ran aground is poorly charted.
“As soon as we realised that the Ocean Explorer could not free itself, we dispatched a ship,” said Commander Brian Jensen. Tuesday, the command performed an overflight to assess the situation of the cruise ship, and they have already requested another cruise ship in the same general area to remain in the area “should the situation evolve.”
The Danes are also consulting with the Icelandic Coast Guard to ascertain if they have a vessel that could reach the cruise ship in the vicinity.
The Danish Joint Arctic Command report reported 206 passengers on board, of which 90 are Australians.
“A cruise ship in distress in a national park is concerning,” said Jensen. “It is a long distance to provide immediate help; our units are far away, and the weather may not be favourable.”
The Arctic Command reported that the cruise ship could not extricate itself during the previous high tide, but it was still a possibility it could do so. Another ship in the vicinity may also be able to assist the Ocean Explorer.