Arctic Cruise Ship Owners Pay $469K in Environmental Costs

By ,   February 13, 2017 ,   Accidents

The owners of a cruise ship which ran into a rock shelf in Nunavut have to pay nearly US$500,000 in environmental costs to the government of Canada after a Federal Court judge ruled that they were responsible for grounding.

In the same decision, Justice Sean Harrington dismissed a US$13.5-million claim from MV Clipper Adventurer (now Ocean Adventurer) and its Bahamas-based owners, Adventurer Owner Ltd., who alleged that the Canadian government should have given them more information that could have prevented the crash.

The decisions stem from an August 2010 incident, when the Clipper Adventurer, carrying 128 passengers and 69 crew, struck an uncharted rock shelf near Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

The Canadian Coast Guard's Amundsen icebreaker rescued the passengers after the Clipper Adventurer's crew was unable to dislodge the vessel. It was eventually freed by 4 tugs and taken to Poland for repairs.

The Clipper Adventurer and its owners claimed Ottawa failed to inform mariners about the rock shelf, and were seeking to be reimbursed for repair and salvage and loss of business, among other costs.

The government's lawsuit sought damages to prevent, repair or minimize pollution from the ship's grounding. 

In his decision, Harrington said the Coast Guard properly warned the Clipper Adventurer's crew of the rock shelf through a notice to shipping, which was not on the ship.

Harrington said the fault lies with the Clipper Adventurer for not seeking out the information, rather than a local Coast Guard station in Iqaluit for not providing it unprompted.

The ship's owners argued that the crew couldn't have asked about potential problems, as they didn't know there were hazards in the area.

Harrington awarded USD 445,361, plus interest.

The Canadian Coast Guard said when the cruise ship was grounded, 13 of its tanks were breached, some holding fuel, freshwater, sludge.

Harrington's decision said if the cruise ship owners fail to pay the damages, the vessel must be sold to cover them.