What caused VIKING SKY trouble and near-disaster? Was helicopters rescue justified?
Maritime Bulletin reader from Netherlands, Mr. Jan Verloop, shared with MB his version of VIKING SKY troubled engines, explaining how and why engines stalled. I believe his version to be very plausible:
Reading the current reports about the Viking Sky distress, I am reminded about the 2012 incident off Alaska when the drilling rig Kulluk ran ashore after its tug Aiviq suffering "engine problems". The Aiviq engines were OK but suffered from bad fuel, causing all 4 engines to stall. https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/MAB1510.pdf
In both cases the vessels where fairly new and have a diesel-electric drive system. In both cases it was bad weather with a heavy rolling ship. My feeling is that fuel oil got mixed with available water, air and tank residue causing a foam type slurry that upsets fuel filters and centrifuges. Let's wait and see what the investigations will show
Was decision to evacuate passengers by helicopters a right one?
The ship dropped anchor or both anchors while disabled and drifting towards shore. Situation was very critical and absolutely unpredictable. If the crew failed to restart engines and stop drift, the ship could be pushed onto rocks, with hull breaches, water ingress and very high probability of sinking. Severe storm and high sea wouldn’t allow the use of lifeboats for evacuation. So rescuers were in very dire straits indeed, whether to launch highly dangerous airlift by helicopters, or wait and pray for lucky escape. I strongly believe, that the decision to launch evacuation by helicopters was justified, right, and responsible.
With all that said, I can’t but admire Norwegian Rescue helicopters teams professional skills, and outstanding bravery.