The Norwegian Cruise Committee, led by former policewoman and Svalbad Governor, Kjerstin Askholt (pictured), has submitted a report to Norwegian Minister of Justice and Public Security, Emilie Enger Mehl.
In 2020, the committee was commissioned to assess the safety and emergency preparedness challenges, including search and rescue operations (SAR), for cruise traffic operating in and around Norwegian waters. The committee’s task was to look to the future and advise the authorities on how to deal with the increasing number of cruise ships operating in the area.
One of the main reasons for commissioning the report was the ‘Viking Sky’ incident, in which the cruise ship suffered engine failure off Hustadvika on 23rd March, 2019. The incident was almost catastrophic in that more than 500 passengers were evacuated from the ship by helicopter in very rough weather.
Following the incident, some ‘experts’ thought there was a need to stop cruise ships sailing along the Norwegian coast altogether and, as a result, the Storting agreed to form a committee. “I am aware that we must have solid preparedness both at sea and on land. This analysis gives us a sound knowledge base for developing emergency preparedness further,” said Minister Mehl.