Grounded Research Vessel in Westfjords Successfully Refloated

A research vessel that ran aground in Tálknafjörður at around 10 PM last night has been refloated. An investigation into the incident is underway.

Weather conditions calm and favourable

At 9:12 PM yesterday, a report was received by the Coast Guard control centre that the research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson, of the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute, had run aground at Sveinseyri, Tálknafjörður in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The Coast Guard’s helicopter unit, along with the rescue vessel from the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), and other ships, were dispatched to the scene. There were twenty people on board when the ship ran aground. For maximum safety, it was decided to reduce the number of passengers on board, and thus, eight passengers were evacuated.

The Coast Guard’s helicopter was on standby at Tálknafjörður. The weather conditions at the grounding site were calm and favourable. With the aid of the rescue ship Vörður, along with fishing vessels Fosnafjord and Fosnakongen, the ship was refloated at 11:26 PM during high tide and subsequently moved to a pier in Tálknafjörður. An investigation into the circumstances of the grounding is being conducted by the Transport Accident Investigation Committee (RNSA).

Cargo Ship Stranded Off North Iceland

Cargo Ship Wilson Skaw stranded in Húnaflói

Cargo ship Wilson Skaw, 4000 tonnes and 113 m long, was stranded on Ennishöfði in Húnaflói Bay yesterday. The ship was on its way from Hvammstangi to Hólmavík when it was stranded. The captain notified the Coast Guard in the afternoon and the Coast Guard sent its vessel Freyja to their location, as well as asking the helicopter crew to prepare. A rescue ship from the Skagaströnd search-and-rescue team was also asked to head to the cargo ship’s location.

Cargo Ship Wilson Skaw stranded in Húnaflói
Guðmundur St Valdimarsson. Cargo Ship Wilson Skaw stranded in Húnaflói

According to the captain, the cargo ship’s crew felt alright. The conditions at the stranding site were good and the weather was as good as could be expected.

Coast Guard vessel Freyja arrived around seven last night and installed a pollution fence around Wilson Skaw this morning. It shows no signs of oil leakage but the fence was installed as a security measure. Coast Guard divers inspected the ship and found that it was stuck on a 50 m stretch and won’t be budged for a few days at least. The shipping company is preparing a rescue plan, but the Freyja crew is available for aid if the need arises.

The ship might have to be lightened before it can be moved. On board are just under 2,000 tonnes of salt and 195 tonnes of oil.

Pollution fence around Wilson Skaw
Guðmundur St Valdimarsson. Pollution fence around Wilson Skaw

Hotels Provide Shelter for Tourists Stranded in Winter Weather

winter weather iceland

More than 30 tourists sought shelter in the Dyrhólaey Hotel on the evening of December 25 when their bus, whose driver had ignored road closures, became stranded in the snow.

The bus in question was operated by the company Hopbílar.

Storms across South and Southeast Iceland interrupted many holiday plans, keeping rescue teams busy for the night. No aid station was opened, with travelers instead seeking last-minute shelter at several hotels across the South Coast.

See also: Airlines Recovering from Storm Delays

Hotel Midgard in Hvolsvöllur is also reported as having opened its doors to more than 70 stranded tourists. Hvolsvöllur, a small town in South Iceland, is often passed through on the way to other South Coast destinations, and serves as a transit hub for the region.

Björg Árnadóttir, manager at the Midgard Hotel, stated to RÚV that not all could be accommodated, with some needing to sleep on mattresses in the hotel lobby.

As of December 26, conditions have begun to clear, with most travelers continuing on their way.

As of the time of writing, Route 1 is open from between the Markarfljót river and Vík on the South Coast.

Especially during the winter, travelers should consult road closures and the latest information on weather warnings at




Freyja Dispatched to First Rescue Operation

An Icelandic Coast Guard vessel

The Icelandic Coast Guard’s newest patrol ship, Freyja took part in its first rescue operation Thursday, RÚV reports. Freyja towed the Greenlandic fishing vessel Masilik, which had run aground on the Reykjanes peninsula, into the Hafnarfjörður harbour.

A “technological wonder”

On Thursday evening, the Icelandic Coast Guard received word that the Greenlandic fishing vessel Masilik had run aground 500 meters off the shore of Gerðistangi point on the Reykjanes peninsula in Southwest Iceland. Fortunately, the Coast Guard’s newest patrol ship, which arrived in the country in November, was moored in the Hafnarfjörður harbour, having just towed a boat into the port from the north.

At around 7 pm Thursday, Freyja set off toward Gerðistangi, assisted by the towboat Hamar, a helicopter, and a search-and-rescue team.

Speaking to RÚV yesterday morning, Friðrik Höskuldsson, Freyja’s captain, remarked that the ship had performed exceedingly well. “The rescue operation went well. The weather conditions were difficult at first – with winds up to 24 metres per second. It was an offshore breeze, however, so it met us fairly well. It took some time to manage conditions and check for an oil leak.”

Freyja succeeded in extracting Masalik from the cliff upon which it had settled. “Freyja did fantastic. She’s a technological wonder, raising the standard of the Icelandic Coast Guard by a great deal. She’s an excellent ship.”

Better safe than sorry

Masilik arrived in the Hafnarfjörður harbour yesterday morning.

According to Friðrik, the crew of the fishing vessel was never in any real danger, although one can never make such estimations with full confidence. “You never know when something like this happens whether the ship stays on keel or capsizes. In this instance, it worked out okay. But for safety’s sake, we sent the Greenlanders to land … they wanted to get to land, and a vessel from Landsbjörg transported fourteen of the crew to Vogar í Vatnsleysuströnd.