Cruise ferry Silja Europa left circling in Åland Islands after rudder failure
1,600 passengers and crew on board
The 60,000 GRT cruise ferry Silja Europa encountered technical problems in its rudder system on Sunday afternoon when it was sailing through the Åland Archipelago on its way from Stockholm to Turku, stated Tallink Group in its press release.
However, the ship’s main engines and thrusters were working and the vessel was manoeuvrable at low speeds. According to the Finnish Coast Guard, there was no threat to the safety of the 1,659 people on board the vessel.
Silja Europa remained circling in the Åland Islands, while the crew tried to investigate the problem and to find a solution.
Late on Sunday night Tallink announced that a tugboat was to arrive early on Monday morning to ensure the ferry’s safe passage to Turku.
The tug Ukko arrived at 7 o’clock in the morning to help the vessel in distress, and Silja Europa’s estimated time of arrival in Turku is at 16.30 (Finnish time).
One of the passengers, Päivi Virtanen from Jämsänkoski, reported last night that the atmosphere on board Silja Europa was calm. While the ferry was circling, the shipping company was offering free meals for all passengers.
Virtanen said that the passengers noticed that something unusual was happening when the vessel suddenly started to shake violently.
”Someone thought that we were running aground”, Virtanen noted.
Afterwards it turned out that the ship’s shaking was caused by the vigorous deceleration of the engines.
”One of the things people worry about most is the fact that many of them should go to work on Monday morning. They are now asking who will compensate them for the non-attendance at work, possibly resulting in loss of salary”, Virtanen added.
The cruise ferry Silja Europa had been scheduled to dock in Turku at 7.15 pm on Sunday and to leave again for Stockholm the same evening, but the departure was cancelled, along with the return from Stockholm this morning.
Even the next departure for Stockholm on Monday has now been cancelled and the tickets will be fully refunded, according to Tallink’s press release.
The precise details of the problem will only be determined when divers are able to inspect the hull and rudder.
Tallink Group press release 23.11.2009
Tallink Silja - Silja Europa
Silja Europa (Wikipedia)