Cruise Ship Repairs Start at Harland & Wolff; Yard Eyes New builds

Harland & Wolff cranes, Belfast (May... © Albert Bridge cc-by-sa ...
Two massive cranes at the Harland and Wolff dockyard.

Harland & Wolff is surging back onto the cruise ship repair scene as the ship repair facility is hosting a trio of Viking ships, the Sky, Sun and Sea, in Belfast

Since acquiring Harland and Wolff in December 2019, the new Harland & Wolff team has been quick to realize their strategic ambitions to enter the cruise sector, according to a statement from the shipyard.

Strict protocols were put in place to ensure compliance with all public health guidelines, some of which will be maintained for the foreseeable future as a precautionary measure. While undertaking dockings during the COVID-19 lockdown and with OEM’s unable to travel the yard, teams have made extensive use of video conferencing, enabling OEMs to be virtually involved during maintenance activities onboard the vessels, according to the shipyard.

The yard said the cruise Industry is under financial strain during the pause in operations and has worked with its financial partners to put in place several extended credit term schemes, allowing owners to fully capitalize on periods where vessels are out of service and have works undertaken during this out-of-service period.

Viking Ships at Harland & Wolff
Viking Sky and Viking Sea docking in Belfast.

In addition, yard executives said they not only want to target drydock and repair projects but return to building ships, most likely starting with small expedition-type vessels.

John Wood Group CEO of Harland & Wolff said: “We are delighted to welcome Viking Sky, Sun and Sea to our facilities in Belfast, this is the first time we have had three cruise vessels docked in Harland & Wolff for many decades. Harland & Wolff was once a market leader in this sector and this is a title we are keen to hold again. On the doorstep of the Mediterranean, the UK is in a prime location for refits, conversions and revitalizations. With our vast facilities set in 85 acres, we can handle several large cruise ships concurrently, as demonstrated by the arrival of three vessels from Viking for minor repairs and upgrade works. With two of the largest docks in Europe and the only yard in the UK that can accept the majority of the works cruise ships demand, we look forward to increasing our presence within the cruise sector as we move forward.

“In order to future-proof our yard we are currently scenario-planning to ensure we can welcome all future cruise vessels as they continue the trend of increasing in size,” Wood said .”The cruise sector will be a key cornerstone of our business going forward. With 70% of shipyards closed during the global pandemic, we are now seeing the implications of this as we start to emerge from the crisis, we have witnessed a substantial increase in inquires from the cruise sector with numerous live inquires at this time. It is possible that owners will face delays as they try to get vessels back into service as the industry ramps up again, global availability of drydocks essential to returning vessels into service where they have slipped out of class will be fully occupied not just with cruise vessels but overall sectors that have had dockings cancelled”

Viking Sky suffered engine failure and rescue helicopters are evacuating people

Viking Sun’s position on AIS Ship @18:25 today

A cruise ship with 1,300 passengers on board has sent out a mayday call after suffering an engine failure in heavy winds near Norway.

The ship, named Viking Sky, was drifting towards land when it let out the distress signal.

Helicopters have been evacuating people from the vessel amid high waves and strong winds.

It was later able to restart one engine, was anchored just over a mile from land and is no longer adrift.

Image result for viking sun

Viking Sky issued a mayday call after suffering engine failure in high winds off the coast of Norway

The ship battled heavy winds and high waves in Hustadvika, an area of the Norwegian coastline known to be dangerous

The ship battled heavy winds and high waves in Hustadvika, an area of the Norwegian coastline known to be dangerous

Up to 90 passengers have been hoisted up one by one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village located just north of the town of Molde on Norway’s west coast. 

One woman messaged family to let them know she had to be stretchered off the ship after heavy waves battered the ship and left her ‘submerged underwater’. 

The passenger said: ‘A wave smashed a door open right behind us and we were submerged under water.

‘We thought that was it and my knee has been damaged.

‘I’ve been stretchered off which was just as scary.’ 

One passenger messaged family to let them know she had to be stretchered off the ship after heavy waves battered the ship and left her ‘submerged under water’

And rough seas have forced two rescue ships to turn back as even tugboats are not sure they will be able to reach the stricken cruise liner.

The stretch, named Hustadvika, is known as one of the most dangerous sections of the Norwegian coast with many shipwrecks in the region.

A spokesperson said: ‘If we need to evacuate everyone, it will take a long time.’

The ship, built in 2017, belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen. 

According to the company website, its passenger capacity is 930.

Several boats and four helicopters took part in the rescue and facilities to receive passengers have been set up on land.

But only 10 to 15 people can be taken per flight on emergency helicopters sent to airlift passengers to safety.  

It is thought there are currently still more than 885 passengers on board. 

The wind was blowing at a speed of 38 knots, police told Norwegian newspaper VG.

All search and rescue teams in the region are mobilising, including 60 volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross, a spokesman said.

Viking’s operational headquarters, located in Basel, Switzerland, did not respond when contacted by telephone.

Viking Takes Delivery of Fifth Ocean Ship

Viking Cruises
PHOTO: Infinity pool on Viking Cruises ship (photo courtesy Viking Cruises)