Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press

7 minutes ago

An aerial photo shows the Ocean Explorer, a Bahamian-flagged Norwegian cruise ship with 206 passengers and crew on board, that ran aground in northwest Greenland, Tuesday, September 12, 2023. The ship is 104.4 meters (343 feet) long and 18 feet long. The meter-wide (60-foot) Ocean Explorer ran aground Monday in the Alpefjord in Northeast Greenland National Park. It is the world’s largest and northernmost national park and is famous for its icebergs and musk oxen that roam the coast. According to authorities, no one on board was in danger and no damage was reported. (Danish Air Force/Joint Polar Command via AP)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A fishing vessel owned by the Greenlandic government will try to use high tides to tow a Bahamian-flagged Norwegian cruise ship with 206 people on board that ran aground in the world’s northernmost national park, authorities said.

Capt. Flemming Madsen of the Danish Joint Arctic Command told The Associated Press that the passengers and crew of the ship stranded in northwest Greenland were doing well and “all I can say is they had the experience of a lifetime.”

The scientific trawler was scheduled to arrive later on Wednesday and when conditions are right will attempt to tow the 104.4 meters (343 feet) long, 18 meters (60 feet) wide MV Ocean Explorer free.

The cruise ship ran aground Monday in the Albefjord in northeast Greenland National Park, known for its icebergs and musk oxen roaming the coast.

The Alpefjord is located in a remote corner of Greenland, about 240 kilometers (149 miles) from the nearest settlement, Etokkortormit which is about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, and on the other side of the ice sheet covering the world. The largest island.

Dozens of cruise ships sail along the coast of Greenland every year so passengers can enjoy the picturesque mountainous landscape with fjords and waterways filled with icebergs of different sizes and glaciers flowing into the sea.

Aurora Expeditions, the Australian-based company that operates the ship, said in a statement that all passengers and crew on board were safe and well, and that there was “no immediate danger to themselves, the ship or the surrounding environment.”

“We are actively participating in the efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer from land. Our first commitment is to ensure the ship’s recovery without compromising safety,” the statement said.

Madsen said the passengers were a “mix” of tourists from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, the United States and South Korea.

The people on board “are in a difficult situation, but given the circumstances, the atmosphere on the ship is good, and everyone on board is in good health.” The Joint Arctic Command said on Wednesday that there was no indication that the ship had suffered serious damage due to its grounding.

On Tuesday, members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol, a Danish naval unit that conducts long-range reconnaissance and enforces Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness, paid them a visit and explained the situation, “which calmed them down as some were worried,” they said. Madsen, who was the duty officer at Joint Arctic Command.

Greenland is a semi-autonomous region that is part of the Danish Kingdom, as are the Faroe Islands.

Joint Arctic Command said Wednesday that there were other ships near the stranded cruise ship, and “if needed, members of the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol could be on the scene within an hour and a half.”

The command said the nearest Danish navy ship, the patrol ship Knud Rasmussen, was about 1,200 nautical miles (more than 2,000 kilometers or 1,380 miles) away. It was heading to the site and is expected to arrive at the parked ship on Friday.

The ship made two unsuccessful attempts to float free on its own when the tide was high.

The primary mission of the Joint Arctic Command is to ensure Danish sovereignty by monitoring the area around the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Headquartered in Nuuk, the command oversees the waters around the Faroe Islands and around Greenland, including the Arctic Ocean in the north, and has three larger Knud Rasmussen-class patrol ships that have a helicopter landing pad, although the ships do not have helicopters.

Ship missions include fisheries inspections, environmental protection, search and rescue, sovereignty enforcement, icebreaking, towing and rescue operations, and policing.

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