Australian-operated cruise ship Ocean Explorer, carrying 206 people including 90 Australians, has run aground in remote eastern Greenland.
The Ocean Explorer, run by Aurora Expeditions Australia, ran aground on Monday in Alpefjord in a remote national park, 1400 kilometres north-east of Greenland’s capital Nuuk.
There are no injuries and there has been no immediate impact on the environment, according to Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command (JAC).
However, attempts to float the vessel at high tides failed and it is thought another ship would be needed to tow the Explorer off.
Suction from the mud is now keeping the ship trapped.
Last night, a Sydney couple told The Sydney Morning Herald there were some cases of Covid on board but spirits were high and supplies were holding.
Steven Fraser and Gina Hill from Newport told the paper the restaurant was still functioning and there were talks and presentations from the expedition crew.
“Everyone’s in good spirits,” said Fraser. “It’s a little bit frustrating but we are in a beautiful part of the world. We’re sitting right near the glacier when we open our window.
“We do have a couple of cases of COVID, but there’s a doctor on board … a lot of people on board are quite elderly.”
Waiting for rescue
Another cruise ship, which Cruise Passenger has identified as Silver Endeavour, has been asked to stay in the area to assist if necessary.
It was hoped the grounded cruise ship could float free on its own at high tide. The 2021-built MS Ocean Explorer is a polar class, ice-strengthened expedition vessel. But so far, that has not happened.
“Regardless, the most important thing for us is that everyone gets to safety,” JAC head of operations, Commander Brian Jensen, said.
“There are still no reports that human life or the environment is in acute danger,” Joint Arctic Command said.
An Aurora Expeditions spokesperson said in a statement that everyone on board was safe and well.
The JAC said its nearest unit was 1200 nautical miles away at the time of the grounding but could reach the grounded ship by Friday morning local time at the earliest.
Ocean Explorer was operated under charter by Vantage Cruise Line until May 2023. Since July 2023, Ocean Explorer has been chartered by Aurora Expeditions, the 1991-founded Australian company specialising in Arctic and Antarctic cruises.
In 2023, Ocean Explorer took over the Arctic schedule of Greg Mortimer, the Aurora Expeditions cruise ship which was drydocked after suffering propeller damage, also in East Greenland. Ocean Explorer‘s operations for Aurora Expeditions only started in July.
An Aurora Expeditions spokesperson said: “The MV Ocean Explorer, ran aground during its voyage, in Alpefjord, Greenland on Tuesday.
“All passengers, the expedition team and crew onboard are safe and well. Importantly, there is no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment.
“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer, from its grounding. Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety.
“We have also secured the support of other vessels in the vicinity should their assistance become necessary.
“As we continue to gather more information and progress in our efforts, we will provide further updates.”