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Passengers Airlifted From Cruise Ship Off Norway As Heaving Waves Tossed The ship

The Viking Sky, a vessel with gross tonnage of 47,800, was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

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The cruise ship Viking Sky drifts toward land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019. VOA

A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast on Saturday as it desperately tried to avoid being grounded on the rocky coast. Rescue workers then launched a high-risk evacuation of the ship’s 1,300 passengers and crew, winching them one by one up to helicopters as heaving waves tossed the ship from side to side.

The Norwegian newspaper VG said the Viking Sky cruise ship ran into propulsion problems as bad weather hit Norway’s coastal regions and the vessel started drifting toward land. Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the crew, fearing the ship would run aground, managed to anchor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim, so the evacuations could take place.

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances. Norwegian media reported gusts up to 38 knots (43 mph) and waves over 8 meters (26 feet). The area is known for its rough, frigid waters.

Passengers protect themselves from a collapsing ceiling aboard the cruise ship Viking Sky while listed, after an engine failure, near Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video.
Passengers protect themselves from a collapsing ceiling aboard the cruise ship Viking Sky while listed, after an engine failure, near Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video. VOA

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the Viking Sky’s evacuation was a slow and dangerous process, as passengers needed to be hoisted from the cruise ship to the five available helicopters one by one. By 6 p.m., some 100 people had been rescued and were being taken to a nearby sports hall.

Second rescue

Later, reports emerged that a cargo ship with nine crew members was in trouble nearby, and the local Norwegian rescue service diverted two of the helicopters to that rescue.

Authorities told NRK that a strong storm with high waves was preventing rescue workers from using lifeboats or other vessels to take passengers ashore.

“It’s a demanding exercise, because [passengers] have to hang in the air under a helicopter and there’s a very, very strong wind,” witness Odd Roar Lange told NRK at the site.

Video and photos from people on the ship showed it heaving, with chairs and other furniture dangerously rolling from side to side. Passengers were suited up in orange life vests, but the waves broke some windows and water flowed over the feet of some passengers.

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The ship was visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames. Pixabay

According to the cruisemapper.com website, the Viking Sky was on a 12-day trip that began March 14 in the western Norwegian city of Bergen.

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The ship was visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames.

The Viking Sky, a vessel with gross tonnage of 47,800, was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises. (VOA)

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Norway Blames Russia for Jamming GPS Signals Again

"Jamming is also a threat to, among others, civilian air traffic and police and health operations in peacetime."

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A lone car has it's choice of entry ramps onto highway E-18, usually one of the busiest roads leading into the Norwegian capital, because the onset of vacation time slows Oslo to a relaxed crawl, as seen July 16, 2004. VOA

Norway’s foreign intelligence unit on Monday expressed renewed concerns that its GPS signals in the country’s Far North were being jammed, as Oslo again blamed Russia for the “unacceptable” acts.

In its annual national risk assessment report, the intelligence service said that in repeated incidents since 2017, GPS signals have been blocked from Russian territory in Norwegian regions near the border with Russia.

The jamming events have often coincided with military exercises on Norwegian soil, such as the NATO Trident Juncture maneuvers last autumn and the mid-January deployment of British attack helicopters in Norway for training in Arctic conditions.

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Norway’s foreign intelligence unit on Monday expressed renewed concerns that its GPS signals in the country’s Far North were being jammed. Pixabay

“This is not only a new challenge for Norwegian and Allied training operations,” the head of the intelligence unit, Morten Haga Lunde, said as he presented the report.

“Jamming is also a threat to, among others, civilian air traffic and police and health operations in peacetime.”

Norway has on several occasions raised the issue with Russian authorities, and is cooperating with other Nordic countries to gather as much information as possible, Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said.

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Norway has on several occasions raised the issue with Russian authorities. Pixabay

“It’s important… to say clearly that this is unacceptable,” he told television channel TV2 Nyhetskanalen.

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In November, neighbouring Finland summoned Russia’s ambassador to Helsinki to answer to accusations that Moscow had disrupted geopositioning signals on its territory during the Trident Juncture exercises.

Moscow has rejected the allegations as baseless. (VOA)