Viking Lines "Amorella"

Baltic Ice Blame Game

A war of words has broken out between Sweden's Maritime Administration and some of the big passenger ferry companies with both parties blaming each other as vessels on Saturday continued to become stuck in thick ice out in the Baltic sea.

The Administration, which has a fleet of seven ice breakers, is blaming ferry companies such as Viking Lines for being "irresponsible" and ignoring its updated advice to change course and avoid some of the larger ice flows.

"It is every ship's duty to take on board all the information which is given. They should have called up the ice breakers and then received advice which areas to avoid," said Ulf Gullne, chief of the ice breaking unit.

But the managing director of passenger ferry company Viking Lines, Jan Kårström told TT that two of their ferries which became stuck, Amorella and Isabella, received no early warning about the risky swathes of ice on route and questioned the Maritime Association's claims that the information went out before they became stuck.

"Our crew listened to all the channels which they should have done. They received no message via mobile telephone. First in the afternoon came the information, but by then, the ferries had already been stuck for two hours."

Viking Line is now calling for a meeting between the Swedish Martime Adminstration and the shipping companies to discuss how information should be exchanged in the future.

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