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Otkes: Technical fault caused Amorella to run aground

The Safety Investigation Authority will continue its investigation to determine how such a failure could have occurred.

M/S Amorellan siirto Järsön saaren edustalla 23.9.2020.
Viking Line's Amorella ship ran aground in the Åland archipelago in September. Image: Päivi Leppänen / Yle

The Safety Investigation Authority (Otkes) has said the cause of the grounding of Viking Line’s passenger ship Amorella in September was a technical failure of the ship’s power control unit.

As a result of the fault, the right propeller blade automatically moved to a full reverse position as the ship approached a narrow strait in the Åland archipelago.

"The ship should by no means behave in this way. If the ship does this, then it will be difficult for the quartermaster to make suitable movements in a narrow space," Otkes director Veli-Pekka Nurmi explained.

The ship's unusual behaviour was noticed on the bridge, and there was time for the crew to react. However, the vessel continued to turn right, resulting in contact with the bottom of the strait, eventually leading the crew to steer Amorella into the shore of Järsö island.

Investigation still ongoing

Otkes added that they will continue to investigate the incident, as there are still questions over how a technical failure in such a critical system could have occurred. The investigation will examine Amorella's service history and maintenance records.

A parallel investigation will also be carried out into the rescue operation, as well as the actions of authorities in relation to the incident.

The full report will be published in the summer of 2021, when Otkes is also expected to make recommendations on how similar accidents can be avoided in the future.

The past year has been especially challenging for the Viking Line company, as the coronavirus pandemic has kept cruise ship passenger numbers to a minimum.

In addition, the company’s vessels have been involved in two accidents this autumn. In addition to Amorella's September grounding, the company's second vessel, Viking Grace, ran aground in Åland last weekend.

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