Earlier this week, on Tuesday evening, June 26, at about 8:15PM CET, a Norwegian cruise ship with capacity for over 3,500 passengers and crew — Mein Schiff 3 — broke off from its moorings at Honningsvaag harbor in northern Norway, setting it adrift and into the pier, which resulted in damage to both the vessel itself and the quay structures.
According to reports, the region had already been experiencing rough weather, and a sudden gust of strong, westerly winds caused the moorings to break loose unexpectedly. Relevant authorities had notified vessels in Honningsvaag harbor of the impending storm, though it would seem that crew aboard the Mein Schiff 3 either did not respond to the warning appropriately, or that the vessel was not properly moored to the pier. At this time, no further information is available on what caused the incident or of which party will be liable.
We are encouraged to hear that the response was swift and effectively coordinated to avoid exacerbating the problem and causing further damage. After the collision, the captain of Mein Schiff 3 quickly gained control of the vessel and notified all vessels nearby — including Coast Guard rescue vessels — to standby for instructions. Tugboats brought Mein Schiff 3 back to the harbor and all her passengers debarked shore side.
We are also pleased to learn that we have no reported injuries from this incident at this time. Ship contact and grounding accidents are among the most common in the cruise line industry, and frequently lead to injuries and significant property damage. However, such accidents are avoidable if all parties exercise reasonable care. Had any passengers suffered injuries on Mein Schiff 3, it is very likely that an actionable claim exits against the cruise line, or even the port authority.
Vessels Must Be Properly Secured for Inclement Weather Conditions
Mein Schiff 3 arrived in Honningsvag harbor just over three hours prior to damaging contact with the pier. Though information on the cause of the accident is — as of yet — quite limited, it appears the vessel was not properly secured. Not only did the moorings break loose during the inclement weather conditions that it was aware off, but the vessel also experienced a loss of control and there are reports that it was also delayed in clearing the pier due to its anchor winding itself onto the anchor of a another vessel, Odin, moored nearby.
Though the present case did not lead to injuries, it is important to note that improper mooring (and a failure to safely set anchor) could have resulted in injuries had Mein Schiff 3 collided with nearby Odin, or caused Odin to break loose from its own moorings.
Inclement weather conditions require effective coordination throughout. Port authorities must identify the presence of storms and other dangerous conditions well in advance of their arrival so that moored vessels can respond appropriately. Moored vessels must ensure that their mooring lines are capable of withstanding the existing and anticipated weather conditions and if even add additional moorings if needed to be sure they are properly secured. Finally, rescue efforts must be swift, measured, and coordinated to prevent the incident from escalating and causing damage to nearby vessels or Port structures.
We Can Help
If you have suffered injuries in a cruise ship (or passenger ferry) accident, then you may be entitled to sue the cruise line operator and recover damages as compensation for your damages. Bringing an action for recovery is not straightforward, however. Some cases may involve hostile defendants, or complex fact patterns that demand creative legal advocacy.
Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkelman, P.A., we have extensive, specific experience representing injured passengers (and crewmembers) in maritime and admiralty claims brought against cruise operators. Though based in Florida, our attorneys have successfully litigated claims in other states, as well as federal and international courts. Given our unique record of accomplishment, we are well equipped to advocate on behalf of those injured in accidents occurring in international waters, such as in the present case.
Curious about whether your claims are actionable? We encourage you to contact an experienced maritime lawyer at our firm for an evaluation and further guidance on how to proceed.