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Home* News and Stories → Isbjørn II aground in Bore­buk­ta

Isbjørn II aground in Bore­buk­ta

The small pas­sen­ger ves­sel Isbjørn II ran aground on Mon­day in Bore­buk­ta. After a while, the Cap­tain deci­ded to make a May­day call and 11 pas­sen­gers and 4 crew mem­bers were evacua­ted by heli­c­op­ter. Nobo­dy was inju­red, all per­sons are well.

Isbjørn II

Isbørn II (archi­ve image, 2018).

The ship its­elf was towed to Lon­gye­ar­by­en on Tues­day. The ves­sel appears to be unda­ma­ged. A small amount of die­sel (or a simi­lar liquid) was initi­al­ly obser­ved on the water near the groun­ding site, but accor­ding to the Sys­sel­mes­ter, it was only a small volu­me that escaped into the envi­ron­ment wit­hout doing any harm. How exact­ly this could hap­pen is unclear, it may have hap­pen­ed in con­nec­tion to the strong lis­ting of the groun­ded ship during low tide.

Borebukta chart

The rele­vant area in Bore­buk­ta. The exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding was not published.
Screen­shot of an elec­tro­nic chart, pro­ces­sed.

The case is remar­kab­le for seve­ral reasons. First of all, it is not to hap­pen at all in the first place. Second­ly, it is not the first time that Isbjørn II ran aground in this very posi­ti­on – the same thing had actual­ly hap­pen­ed befo­re in the very same place. And then, the­re are con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments regar­ding the exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding. The area appears to be well char­ted on modern sea charts. Some say, howe­ver, that the groun­ding hap­pen­ed in a posi­ti­on whe­re the chart indi­ca­tes a depth of 11 met­res (right part of the oval), a depth that – if cor­rect – would be safe for small ves­sels such as as Isbjørn II. Should this be cor­rect, then the chart, alt­hough see­mingly detail­ed and com­pi­led accor­ding to modern stan­dards, would be dan­ge­rous­ly faul­ty. But given cur­rent public infor­ma­ti­on, it can not be excluded eit­her that Isbørn II ran aground in shal­low waters near the small island (left part of the oval). In this case, navi­ga­ti­on errors would likely have play­ed an important role in the cur­rent inci­dent.

Next to Isbjørn II, the­re are seve­ral other boats that have kissed the bot­tom in this area sin­ce 2015 (and, pos­si­bly, befo­re). In at least one case, one invol­ved per­son said to have infor­med the Nor­we­gi­an coas­tal aut­ho­ri­ty, which is respon­si­ble for the charts, about faul­ty depth infor­ma­ti­on.

Wit­hout detail­ed know­ledge about the exact posi­ti­on of the groun­ding, it is impos­si­ble to judge what real­ly hap­pend and if the chart qua­li­ty actual­ly was a fac­tor or not.



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last modification: 2023-05-24 · copyright: Rolf Stange