Lawyer Welcomes Full Investigation Into Svalbard Islands Ship Accident

Arctic ship accident caused by glacier ice, Svalbard Islands


Travel law experts Irwin Mitchell Solicitors has welcomed a full investigation into why the captain of the ship, Alexey Maryshev, that was hit by ice, injuring 17 British tourists, chose to sail so close to the edge of a glacier during a sightseeing trip in Arctic waters.

Clive Garner, Head of Travel law at law firm Irwin Mitchell said "The risk of glaciers "calving", or splitting is well known, and as such ships are supposed to keep a safe distance to avoid incidents just like this and to ensure passengers and crew are not put at risk."

17 British passengers were injured, at least two seriously, whilst on the sightseeing trip off the Svalbard Islands, 310 miles north of Norway.

These injuries would have been avoided if the ship had maintained a safe distance from the glacier. While the spectacle of the arctic is one of the wonders of the world, there are clearly hazards and tour operators and the crew of vessels they employ must not put the safety of their clients at risk."

Several sources have suggested that the Alexey Maryshev ship failed to keep an adequate distance from the towering glacier at Svalbard these include Birger Amundsen, the editor of the islands newspaper Svalbardposten. He was reported as saying that he believed the ship had strayed too close to the Hornbreen glacier.

Mr Amundsen said The ship took big risks - they were moving too close to the edge of the glacier. They were just 20 metres away. An experienced Norwegian crew would never dare to do that. However, it is easy to understand why the tour boat would want to.

A spokesman for the ship operators has admitted that this is a possibility.

The Svalbard Islands, which are about 1,000km (620 miles) from the North Pole, are a popular tourist destination during the summer.

The luxury vessel is thought to have been hit by ice causing the ship to list.

Four of the injured were flown to a hospital on the Norwegian mainland and 14 were taken to a local hospital.

Deputy Sheriff on Svalbard, Jan Tommervold, said the Alexey Maryshev a luxury sightseeing boat, was hit by the ice late on Wednesday 8 August.

Police said the ship sailed close to the towering Horn glacier at Svalbard for a better look when ice broke off and hit the vessel's side and deck, where some passengers had gathered.

Petter Braathen, another deputy, said "The Russian captain said they were tight into the Horn glacier when it calved"

He said blocks of ice crashed into the water near the ship causing it to be tossed back and forth by the waves "throwing" the passengers around.

The injured Britons were among 50 passengers who had booked a trip through UK specialist tour company Discover the World.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this incident, we may be able to help. Fill in our online claims form for free advice or talk to someone now on 0370 1500 100.