Caledonian Sky Runs Aground on a Reef

   March 9, 2017 ,   Accidents

The cruise ship Caledonian Sky ran aground this weekend onto a coral reef close to Kri, off Raja Ampat, eastern Indonesia, one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on Earth and a favourite with intrepid travellers and divers due to its palm-fringed islands, coral and fish.

The grounding of the 90-meter, Bahamas-flagged ship took place at about 2:00 p.m. local time on March 4, at low tide, during a bird-watching expedition. While the cruise ship was able to free itself, (at high tide) Caledonian Sky has left a 20-meter long cut through the coral reef. Previously, numerous attempts to free it using a tug boat failed, causing further damage to the corals.

The ship was carrying a total of 102 passengers, of which 86 British, 7 Swedes, 3 U.S. citizens, 2 Canadians, 2 Irish and 2 Indonesians, all of whom had been evacuated from Caledonian Sky. Ship's crew was 79.

The accident is currently investigated by local authorities. Caledonian Sky is scheduled to arrive in Manila, Philippines on March 14.

UPDATE: On March 21, 2017, Indonesia said the UK cruise ship had damaged around 18,900 m2 of coral reef, increasing the estimate of devastation caused when Caledonian Sky ran aground.

An assessment led by a local university had estimated the damage from the March 4 accident at 13,500 m2. But after a survey involving marine researchers, government and the insurers, authorities announced that 18,882 m2 (200,000 ft2) of corals had been affected.

Maritime affairs ministry spokesman Djoko Hartoyo told AFP that the government was still calculating the financial impact of the accident, and it would be announced early April.

"The company and the insurers are committed to paying compensation," Hartoyo added.

The incident in West Papua province infuriated the government, who last week summoned the British ambassador to protest, while local residents believe it will impact the tourism industry and the livelihoods of fishermen.

The Bahamas-flagged vessel is owned by a Swedish company, but the tour was organised by British-based firm Noble Caledonia, and the captain was British.

Noble Caledonia has apologised for the accident and said they are working to reach a settlement with the government.

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