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 Arctic.
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