Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic August 24, 2018 - 8:28 pm

Passengers from Akademik Ioffe arrive in western Nunavut community of Kugaaruk

"Arrangements are in place for their care and onward travel," says One Ocean Expeditions

JIM BELL
Earlier this month a team of divers from the Ocean Wise organization used the Akademik Ioffe, which lies in the distance in this photo. The cruise ship's operator, One Ocean Expeditions, says that family members of passengers or crew who have questions about the ship's grounding may phone 1-855-416-2326 or send an email to guestservices@oneoceanexpeditions.com. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ONE OCEAN EXPEDITIONS)
Earlier this month a team of divers from the Ocean Wise organization used the Akademik Ioffe, which lies in the distance in this photo. The cruise ship's operator, One Ocean Expeditions, says that family members of passengers or crew who have questions about the ship's grounding may phone 1-855-416-2326 or send an email to guestservices@oneoceanexpeditions.com. (PHOTO COURTESY OF ONE OCEAN EXPEDITIONS)

(Updated Aug. 26, 8:05 a.m.)

Passengers from the the stricken cruise ship Akademik Ioffe, operated by One Ocean Expeditions, arrived in Kugaaruk yesterday after being transferred to its sister vessel, the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, One Ocean Expeditions said late Saturday.

“All passengers previously embarked on the Akademik Ioffe have now arrived in Kugaaruk, Nunavut on board the Akademik Sergey Vavilov,” the company said in this release. “Arrangements are in place for their care and onward travel.”

A spokesperson from the Transportation Safety Board told Nunatsiaq News on Saturday, Aug. 25 that crew members on the damaged vessel stayed behind following the transfer of passengers by zodiac to the Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

Like the Akademic Ioffe, the Russian-flagged 117-metre Akademik Sergey Vavilov is used by One Ocean Expeditions to run high-end luxury cruise tours in the Arctic, the Antarctic and other coastal regions.

It’s also a travel partner of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, which was offering a sponsored “expedition” from aboard the Akademik Ioffe

The CCGS Amundsen and its helicopter helped with the transfer operation, the Canadian Coast Guard said.

This took place after the vessel was refloated after it ran aground in the western part of the Gulf of Boothia about 80 nautical miles northwest of Kugaaruk on Friday afternoon, Aug. 24.

It’s not clear how much damage the vessel may have suffered and if it’s taking on water. One passenger said on Twitter he heard a “loud grinding sound” and “the ship shook.”

“The ship came to a complete stop and it fell silent, and listing to one side,” the passenger said, saying later that the ship appeared to be sitting lower in the water when passengers disembarked

The company had said the vessel was refloated just after 10:30 p.m. Pacific time on Friday and now says they are deciding on its “next port of call,” where repairs will be performed.

On that issue, the Canadian Coast Guard said Sunday evening the CCGS Pierre Radisson is remaining with the ship to determine when it will be safe to move the Akademik Ioffe to its next destination.

The company reported the event on Aug. 24 after the Canadian Coast Guard had announced that icebreakers CCGS Pierre Radisson and CCGS Amundsen were sailing towards the vessel.

“The vessel ran aground, but is in stable condition. No injuries have been reported and there is no immediate danger reported by the vessel,” the Coast Guard said Aug. 24.

In their announcement of the incident, One Ocean said they are working with all relevant agencies.

“We regret the inconvenience to our passengers and are working closely with the captain, ship owner and all relevant agencies to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible,” said Catherine Lawton, the general manager of One Ocean Expeditions.

The company has said that family members of passengers or crew who have questions may phone 1-855-416-2326 or send an email to guestservices@oneoceanexpeditions.com.

About 160 crew and passengers were on board, according to the Transportation Safety Board. The company’s website says the vessel normally carries 65 staff and crew members, and 96 passengers, and is equipped with 10 zodiac boats and an ice-strengthened hull.

Among its passengers were six students from the University of Illinois at Chicago who are studying polar science.

The ship also appeared to be carrying numerous oceanographic and climate researchers from other institutions, including 37 people from the University of Rhode Island, 22 of whom are undergraduate and graduate students.

One Ocean Expeditions has been using the Akademik Ioffe for expensive packaged cruises off the east coast of Canada and in eastern Arctic waters since the end of June.

This most recent cruise package is marketed as “Pathways to Franklin” and is advertised as having started yesterday, on Aug. 23 in Resolute Bay and was to have continued for nine nights until Sept. 1, when the vessel had been due to arrive in Cambridge Bay.

“We will trace the routes of the early explorers who sailed—and perished— in these waters as they sought a way through the fabled Northwest Passage,” the company brags on its website.

The cost of a berth on the Pathways to Franklin cruise starts at more than US$7,000 and rises to nearly US$14,000, the Oceans North website states.

The nearest Nunavut community, Kugaaruk, population about 930, contains limited infrastructure and amenities, with a gravel airstrip that cannot handle large jet aircraft, and the community often experiences difficult ice conditions.

This is the third grounding of a cruise ship in Nunavut waters in recent years.

On Aug. 27, 2010, the Clipper Adventurer ran into a shoal in the Coronation Gulf and suffered serious damage, putting at risk the lives of about 200 passengers and crew.

The ship’s operators claimed at the time that the vessel had hit an unknown hazard, but a Federal Court judge later ruled that wasn’t true.

On Aug. 29, 1996, the cruise ship Hanseatic ran aground in Simpson Strait while en route from Gjoa Haven to Resolute Bay. The Transportation Safety Board found the accident occurred because the ship’s crew did not strictly adhere to a plan for navigating the strait.

The Transport Safety Board is now looking into the Akademik Ioffe grounding.

With files from Jane George

 

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