Three New Rescue Ships for ICE-SAR

Jóhannes Briem ICE-SAR ship search and rescue

Three new rescue ships have been added to Iceland’s Search and Rescue organisation ICE-SAR’s fleet recently, including the Jóhannes Briem. The latter ship’s home port is Reykjavík, where it was handed over to ICE-SAR team Ársæll on Saturday. ICE-SAR is working on renewing its fleet to improve accident prevention and response across Iceland.

Jóhannes Briem was built in Finland at the Kewatec shipyards. It has a cruising speed of up to 30 nautical miles and is powered by two powerful Scania diesel engines and worm drives. It contains state-of-the-art equipment including a thermal camera and side-scan sonar, as well as having better crew equipment than the association’s older ships.

Jóhannes Briem is the third ship of its kind acquired by ICE-SAR recently, with the other two going to search and rescue teams in Flateyri, in the Westfjords and Húsavík, North Iceland.

At Jóhannes Briem’s handover, ICE-SAR announced it had already ordered a fourth ship, which is to be based in Snæfellsnes, West Iceland.

Divers Assess Damage to Cargo Ship

Divers are on their way to a German cargo ship currently that was damaged yesterday, Vísir reports. Environmental concerns surround the ship due to the possibility of an oil leak. Although damage to the ship has been confirmed, the extent of it is not yet known.

En route to Rotterdam

The cargo ship in question ran aground yesterday, September 10, near Akurey, a small island outside of Reykjavík harbour. A possible oil spill was detected in the area and the Coast Guard’s search and rescue team was called in for assistance. The ship, which was on its way to Rotterdam, returned to harbour.

An environmental protection barrier was placed around the ship.

Ágeir Erlendsson, information officer for the Coast Guard, stated to Vísir: “We saw this thin film of oil, both from Óðinn’s (a Coast Guard ship) observation deck and from a helicopter fly-over. This thin film was seen where the ship ran aground. That’s why it’s heading into the harbour, and we will then further quarantine it.”

Divers assessing damage

However, as of today, September 11, the oil leak is yet to be confirmed. Divers are currently on their way to the ship to further assess the situation.

The ship is on lease to Eimskip from its owner, German logistics company Peter Döhle.

“The divers are on their way to assess the damage,” stated  There is some damage, and it is uncertain whether the ship can sail. Most likely, some repairs will need to be carried out, but we do not know the extent of them,” stated Edda Rut Björnsdóttir, a representative for Eimskip. “There is some damage, and it is uncertain whether the ship can sail. Most likely, some repairs will need to be carried out, but we do not know the extent of them.”

The Environment Agency has been informed, and a transportation investigation committee is said to be conducting an investigation into the matter.

Man Dies in Ship Fire

fatal accident Iceland

A 49-year-old man died in a fire on a ship in Njarðvík harbour, in Southwest Iceland, last night. Vísir reports that he was a Polish national and is survived by a wife and teenage son living in Poland. Seven people were on board the ship last night when the fire broke out, as it was scheduled to head out to sea this morning.

Firefighters were called out to the scene at 2:10 AM this morning. Four people on the boat escaped of their own accord and were unharmed. Two were taken to Suðurnes Health Centre, where one is in an induced coma. Another person sustained burns on their back in the fire.

The man who died on board was the ship’s cook, and had worked on the ship, called the Grímsnes GK-555, for around a decade. “He has lived in Iceland for nearly two decades, probably. He moved home to Poland with his family when his wife became ill, but has still worked here despite that, except for one year during Covid. He’s probably been with me for ten years,” stated Sigvaldi Hólmgrímsson, the ship’s captain.

Sigvaldi says he doesn’t know how the fire broke out and has yet to speak with police or firefighters. “I’ve heard different stories from all of my men. When something like this happens, you’re not thinking of anything other than getting yourself out. There was so much fire onboard that to my understanding they could barely see.”

This is the second time the Grímsnes GK-555 makes headlines this month. A crew member on the ship smuggled a 15-year-old girl on board in early April. The crew member was later fired.

Stranded Ship Will Be Towed to Hólmavík

Pollution fence around Wilson Skaw

The cargo ship Wilson Skaw, which stranded in Húnaflói Bay on April 18, will be towed to Hólmavík for temporary repairs and then to the shipyard in Akureyri, North Iceland, RÚV reports. Before the ship can be towed, however, Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Freyja will be used to move 2,000 tonnes of salt, part of the ship’s cargo, to ensure the ship is better balanced.

Wilson Skaw stranded off Iceland’s north coast last week carrying 2,000 tonnes of salt and 195 tonnes of oil. Most of the oil has already been pumped off the ship to prevent possible environmental damage. The 113-metre ship was refloated on April 21. Due to damage, authorities considered it unsafe to tow the ship directly to Akureyri for repairs.

The ship’s crew has remained on board since the stranding and it has been deemed safe for it to do so.

Stranded Cargo Ship Refloated

Cargo Ship Wilson Skaw stranded in Húnaflói

The cargo ship Wilson Skaw was refloated around 9:00 this morning.

The 113m-long cargo ship ran aground on April 19 in Húnaflói bay, off the north coast of Iceland.

The Freyja coastguard vessel is now towing the ship, but the going is slow to avoid other skerries and reefs in the area.

Read More: Cargo Ship Stranded Off North Iceland

Ásgeir Erlendsson, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard, stated to Vísir: “What’s happening now is that the Freyja coastguard vessel is slowly towing the ship in the hope of getting it into deeper water. However, it must be kept in mind that there are quite a few underwater rocks in the area.”

The Coast Guard is now moving the ship to deeper waters, as it has been stranded since Tuesday. The ship was carrying two thousand tonnes of salt and 195 tonnes of oil when it ran aground.

Minor damage to the hull was recorded, but luckily, there was no leakage. The Coast Guard had placed containment nets around the grounded ship as a security measure briefly following its stranding.

“It’s crucial to protect the environment in situations like this. Fortunately, there are no signs of oil leakage into the sea,” Ásgeir further stated.

The Wilson Skaw is operated by Wilson Ship Management AS.

 

Is there an article about the Icelandic passenger ship that was sunk in 1944 by a U-boat?

godafoss icelandic ship ww2

On November 10, 1944, a German U-boat sank Goðafoss, an Icelandic passenger ship, just outside Reykjavík harbour, leading to the deaths of  24 people. We haven’t written about the event itself, but we have, however, covered the reception history of an interesting book about the event, called “Útkall: Árás á Goðafoss,” or “SOS: Attack on the Goðafoss.” 

Published in 2003 by Óttar Sveinsson, it attracted international attention and has been translated into multiple languages. Notably, when it was translated into German, a special press conference was held at the Frankfurt book fair, in which an Icelandic survivor from the attack and a former U-Boat crew member met and reconciled. After the German translation attracted some attention, a documentary was even made about the event in Germany. 

While the Goðafoss may certainly be the most notorious U-boat attack from an Icelandic perspective, it was certainly not the only one to affect Icelanders. Because of Iceland’s important position between Europe and North America, many wartime convoys passed through Iceland. Icelandic vessels were very careful to fly the Icelandic flag to signal their neutrality, but some eight Icelandic vessels were nevertheless attacked and sunk by U-boats during the war.

New Ship Freyja Increases Coast Guard’s Response Capacity

Freyja coast guard ship

The Icelandic Coast Guard’s new patrol ship Freyja has arrived in Iceland. The ship is currently located in Reykjavík harbour for the installation of equipment but its home port will be Siglufjörður, North Iceland. With the Coast Guard’s other patrol ship, Þór, stationed in Reykjavík, response time to emergencies will shorten across the country.

The decision to make Siglufjörður Freyja’s home port was jointly made by the Coast Guard and Ministry of Justice. As a press release from the Coast Guard explains, “With increased ship travel in the Arctic, the number of trips by large cargo and oil vessels along the east and north coasts of Iceland increases. The number of cruise ships are also expected to increase, and there is no need to extrapolate on the threats posed to the ecosystem in the event of danger. Hours to or from [the scene of an event] can be crucial. With Þór in Reykjavík and Freyja in Siglufjörður, the Coast Guard’s response capacity around the country has been increased and it will be easier to ensure the safety of seafarers, Icelanders, and resources at sea.”

Freyja is comparable to Þór in terms of its size and equipment, but has greater towing capacity. With Freyja’s arrival, the Coast Guard’s older patrol ship Týr will be relieved of duty. Freyja, Þór, and Týr are all names taken from Norse mythology, a tradition for the naming of Coast Guard ships.

The new ship arrived in Reykjavík harbour last Monday afternoon and is now being outfitted with a computer system and other equipment. Freyja is scheduled to set off on its first patrol mission on November 22, and will end the mission in Siglufjörður on December 9.

Freshly-Painted Freyja Coming to Iceland

An Icelandic Coast Guard vessel

The Icelandic Coast Guard’s new patrol ship Freyja is expected to arrive in Iceland on November 6. The ship has already been painted in the flag colours and its crew has arrived in Rotterdam, the Netherlands to sail Freyja home to Siglufjörður. Freyja is 86 metres long and 20 metres wide, and will join the Coast Guard’s other main patrol ship Þór in monitoring Icelandic waters.

Freyja is similar to Þór in terms of size and equipment, though with greater towing and rescue capacity. Both ships are specially equipped to carry out law enforcement as well as search and rescue missions in Iceland’s demanding conditions.

Þór’s arrival to Iceland just over 10 years ago marked a turning point in the Icelandic Coast Guard’s search and rescue ability. The ship was used as a mobile power station for Dalvík two years ago and provided a large part of the town with electricity during a power outage. The ship’s towing capacity has come to good use in towing incapacitated ships over the years.

Captain’s Licence Revoked Following COVID-19 Outbreak at Sea

Júlíus Geirmundsson

Sveinn Geir Arnarsson, captain of freezer trawler Júlíus Geirmundsson, pleaded guilty when the Westfjords Police Chief’s case against him was heard in the Westfjords District Court last week, Vísir reported. Sveinn has been ordered to pay a fine of ISK 750,000 ($5,800/€4,800) and his captain’s licence has been suspended for a period of four months.

Twenty-two of the vessel’s 25 crew members contracted COVID-19 while at sea last October. The ship did not return to harbour for three weeks despite the outbreak on board. The crew later called for the captain’s resignation. Three months since the incident, some of the ship’s crew are still unable to work due to COVID-19 complications.

Sveinn was charged with violating the second paragraph of Article 34 of the Fishermen’s Act, which states: “If there is reason to believe that the crew member is suffering from a disease that poses a danger to other people on the ship, the captain shall have the patient transported ashore if it is not possible to protect against the risk of infection on the ship.”

Five labour unions also pressed charges against the captain following the incident.