Canadian Court Orders Owners of MV Clipper Adventurer to Pay Pollution Costs for 2010 Grounding

This week a Canadian court ordered the owners of the M/V Clipper Adventurer to pay pollution related costs and fines arising of of an incident in August of 2010 when the vessel struck a large rock shelf near Kugluktuk, Nunavut. 

The owners and operators of the Clipper Adventurer claimed that the ship was not informed about the hazard, and filed a $13.5 million claim again Canada for their repair and salvage and loss of business. The ship's owners blamed Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans for failing to inform them about the underwater rock shelf. I wrote at the time that this seemed to be a very difficult case for the vessel owners. "They were in the rugged waters of the Northwest Passage and apparently were not using a local pilot who was familiar with the waters. Were they using a depth sounder? Sounds like they were not exercising diligence sailing in these waters without a pilot or correct charts."

We wrote about the incident over 6 years ago - Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Runs Aground in the Clipper Adventurer Runs AgroundArctic.

The Canadian court found the Coast Guard properly warned the Clipper Adventurer's crew of the rock shelf through a notice to shipping, which was not on board the ship. The court wrote "as it was, this nonchalant attitude put the lives of close to 200 souls at risk."

As we pointed out in our article "Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard, the location of the rock which the cruise ship struck had been known for several years, when the Canadian Hydrographic Service informed the shipping industry. The Coast Guard then warned about the supposedly “uncharted rock” that the ship hit in a Notice to Shipping. 

John Hughes Clarke, head of the UNB’s ocean mapping group, stated at the time of the grounding that the problem was that cruise ships "want to go off the safe shipping lanes where there is more dramatic topography or stunning wildlife," in order to be of interest to the paying passengers.

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Credit: UNB Ocean Mapping Group

M/V Clipper Adventurer Sues Canada After Running Aground in Northwest Passage

CBC News in Canada is reporting that the owners of the M/V Clipper Adventurer, which ran aground last summer in the Nothwest Passage, is suing the Canadian government. 

Adventurer Owner Ltd. of Nassau, Bahamas, is seeking at least $15 million from Canada, including $12 million in repair and salvage costs for damage to the vessel's hull, $2.6 million for loss of business, and $350,000 in other costs.

Clipper Adventurer Sues CanadaThe ship's owners blame Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans for failing to inform the vessel owners and other mariners about an underwater rock shelf.

The nautical charts on board the Clipper Adventurer at the time of the grounding indicated there were 29 meters of water when in fact there there were only three meters of water at the location of the grounding. 

We blogged about this last year:

Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Runs Aground in the Arctic

"Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard

Although Canada has an obligation to update maps and charts for its waters, this seems to be a difficult case for the vessel owners.  They were in the rugged waters of the Northwest Passage and apparently were not using a local pilot who was familiar with the waters.  Were they using a depth sounder?  Sounds like they were not exercising diligence sailing in these waters without a pilot or correct charts.

Some observers are suggesting that Canada should counter sue the vessel owners for the expenses of the Canadian Coast Guard for rescuing the passengers.

 

Photo: Canadian Coast Guard/Canadian Press via CBC News

"Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard

The Nunatsiaq News published an interesting article this morning, entitled "Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Known Expert Says."

You will recall that following the grounding of the Clipper Adventurer cruise ship in the Canadian Arctic on August 27th, the cruise operator issued a press statement claiming that the cruise ship ran aground on an "uncharted rock."  The owner even went as far as to make this whopper of an excuse: "we were simply following the chart that we had and right where there wasn’t any indication that there was something in the water, there was this large rock.”

Clipper Adventurer - Ran Aground - Uncharted RockMy response in my blog last week?  "Sounds like a PR statement to explain some bad navigational skills by whomever was at the helm."

Well now the little Canadian newspaper, the "Nunatsiaq News," tells us the truth. 

“The cruise ship effectively ran into an underwater cliff,” John Hughes Clarke, head of the University of New Brunswick’s Ocean Mapping Group.  “Had they been just a few ship lengths to the east or west they would have missed it.”

The supposedly “uncharted rock” that the ship hit had been reported by the Canadian Hydrographic Service and in a Notice to Mariners issued by Coast Guard in 2007.  And it is the responsibility of the chart retailers and/or the ships officers to update their charts and note these hazards when they are issued.

Many cruise ships are heading into riskier areas, said Hughes Clarke.  “The problem is cruise ships want to go off the safe shipping lanes where there is more dramatic topography or stunning wildlife,” he said.

The newspaper also states that the damages to the ship was more extensive than initially reported.  The Clipper Adventurer’s hull had sustained "important damages and that many watertight compartments were ruptured." 

Its good to finally get the real story.

 

Credit:  UNB Ocean Mapping Group 

Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Runs Aground in the Arctic

Canada's National Post reports that a cruise ship has run aground in the Arctic. 

Clipper AdventurerThe newspaper reports that the Clipper Adventurer, operated by Adventure Canada and carrying around  200 passengers and crew, ran aground Friday evening  in "three meters of water." The location of the grounding is about 55 nautical miles from Coppermine, Nunavut, near the border with the Northwest Territories

But the cruise operator claims that the cruise ship ran aground on an "uncharted rock."  

Sounds like a PR statement to explain some bad navigational skills by whomever was at the helm.

Evacuation efforts are underway.  A Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker is en route to the scene to transport passengers to Coppermine where the ship was headed.  The cruise began in Greenland.

The newspaper indicates that there were no reports of injuries or environmental damage.  This again is probably a report from the cruise ship operators.  It will be interesting to hear what the passengers say happened when they get home.   

This is the second time in recent months that an incident like this occurred.  Earlier this year, we reported on an incident where the Clelia II ran into rocks in Antarctica - The Clelia II - Another Antarctic Cruise Ship Skirts Disaster

In 2009, the Ocean Nova cruise ship, ran aground. To see some amazing photographs of a similar cruise ship grounded, look at the Komar.org website.  Ironically, the Clipper Adventurer came to Clipper Adventurer Cruise Ship Ran Aground the rescue of the passengers aboard the Ocean Nova.    

Cruise Junkie has a list of cruise ship groundings on its web site.

The tour operator's PR statement is below:

"MV Clipper Adventurer, en-route from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk NU, was grounded on an uncharted rock at 67 58 N 1112 40 W. At the time the seas were calm, sunny conditions and good visibility with no wind or swell.

Efforts of the vessel's crew to dislodge the vessel during high tide on August 28th were unsuccessful.

The vessel now rests with a slight list. Conditions are stabilized. All passengers and crew are safe and unharmed. Weather remains favourable as passengers continue to enjoy onboard programming and hospitality.

Canadian authorities have been notified and the Canadian Coast Guard Vessel Amundsen is en-route set to arrive 0900 August 29th to assist with disembarking passengers.

Flight arrangements have been made to ensure passengers return to Edmonton for the evening of August 29th."

Clipper Adventurer RescueUpdate August 29, 2010:

The Canadian Coast Guard has released a photograph of the grounded cruise ship (above right).   

The Edmonton Sun interviewed the owner of the tour company who was quoted saying: "we were simply following the chart that we had and right where there wasn’t any indication that there was something in the water, there was this large rock.”  

Hmmm . . .

The newspaper also reports that the company will fly the passengers home, but they won’t be receiving any type of refunds.  

Update August 30, 2010:

The  Nunatsiaq Online reports that more than 120 passengers and crew, taken off the Clipper Adventurer cruise ship by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the Amundsen, arrived in Kugluktuk after midnight on August 30th.  Photograph of rescued passenger is above left. 

September 4, 2010 Update:

It turns out that the hazard was charted 3 years ago!  Read "Uncharted Rocks" and Other Tall Tales - Clipper Adventurer Ran Into A Charted Hazard

 

Do you have information or photos/video about this latest incident?  Please leave us a comment below.

PhotoCredit:       

Top:    cruzeirospdl.blogspot

Middle:  Canadian Coast Guard (via CNN)

Bottom:  Jason Evans/Angut Pedersen (via Nunatsiaq Online)