Norwegian cruise ship loses navigation ability in North Sea during storm

By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -The Norwegian cruise ship MS Maud suffered a power outage after a rogue wave shattered windows on the bridge while it sailed in the North Sea, causing the vessel to lose its ability to navigate, Danish authorities and the ship’s owner said on Thursday.

The 266 passengers and 131 crew members were safe, according to the Danish Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

“There is no power on the ship. The main engine is functioning but the navigation systems and radars are not,” a spokesperson for the centre, which is responsible for coordinating search and rescue operations, said.

While sailing roughly 200 kilometres (120 miles) off Denmark’s west coast and roughly 330 kilometres off Britain’s east coast, strong winds blasted windows on the bridge of the vessel, allowing water to enter and resulting in a power failure on the bridge, the centre said.

The ship, which belongs to cruise company HX, a unit of Norway’s Hurtigruten Group, left Floroe in Norway on Thursday and was due to arrive in Tilbury in the UK on Friday.

“Earlier this afternoon, December 21, MS Maud reported a temporary loss of power after encountering a rogue wave,” Hurtigruten said in an emailed statement.

“At this time, the ship has confirmed that no serious passenger or crew injuries have been sustained as a result of the incident and the condition of the ship remains stable,” it said.

A towage vessel from the civil rescue company Esvagt was scheduled to arrive at the ship around 2230 GMT.

The ship is currently being steered manually from the engine room but cannot navigate. Esvagt support vessels had arrived to help the ship navigate until the ship could be towed to port.

“I don’t think there is any danger to the ship now. If the captain thought so, he would have asked to be evacuated which he hasn’t,” the rescue centre spokesperson said.

The area was hit by a storm late on Thursday with hurricane-force gusts blowing from the northwest that were forecast to continue on Friday, the Danish Meteorological Institute said.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-PedersenEditing by Josie Kao, Deepa Babington and Cynthia Osterman)