A total of 67 individuals were safely evacuated from a small cruise ship, the Wilderness Discoverer, on 5 June in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. This took place after the engine room on-board the vessel caught fire. The ship, which weighs 99 gross tons and is U.S flagged, is operated by UnCruise Adventures. At the time, the vessel was transiting the main channel in the west arm of Glacier Bay. There have been no reported injuries. A cause for the fire is currently unknown and under investigation. However, the CEO of UnCruise Adventures has speculated it was due to a generator fire. The ship has been left disabled and 11 crew members have remained aboard while it is towed by the Taku Wind to Ketchikan.
The Coast Guard received a call for assistance at about 7:30 a.m. local time. The firm alarm was reported and the Coast Guard cutters Pike and Anthony Petit were dispatched. The National Park Service was also responding to the call for assistance. In addition, a Jayhawk helicopter crew was sent from the Air Station in Sitka, Alaska. While the ship was disabled, luckily they were in the calm, sheltered waters of Glacier Bay with the USCG reporting 5-mile visibility, 15mph winds, and 3-foot seas. Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess, a much larger cruise ship at 115,875 gross tons, was in the area and went to the assistance of the disabled vessel.
Fifty-one passengers and 16 crew members were evacuated and transferred to the Sapphire Princess. Pictures showed passengers on the tenders of the Princess cruise ship and being shuttled to the larger vessel. UnCruise reports the passengers were going to be transferred from the cruise ship to hotels in Juneau. L.t. j.g. Maximilian Carfagno, the command duty officer at the Sector Juneau command center of the USCG said, “Our primary concern was ensuring the safety of the passengers and the crew. The quick launch of our assets and the teamwork among the Sapphire Princess helped in the timeliness of this rescue.”
Captain Dan Blanchard, Owner & CEO of UnCruise Adventures, said: “We are relieved to confirm that there have been no injuries resulting from the fire. Our highly trained crew promptly extinguished the fire using established emergency protocols, and CO2 was successfully deployed for everyone’s safety.” The ship’s crew will be commended for their actions.
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