Low lube oil levels led to near-grounding of Viking Sky

Written by Nick Blenkey
image description

Screen grab from video shows passengers preparing for evacuation by helicopter

The Accident Investigation Board of Norway has issued an interim report on the March 23, 2019 incident that saw 479 passengers evacuated by helicopter from Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Sky when it lost power during a storm off Norway’s western coast. The ship was carrying 1,400 passengers and crew and, at one point, drifted to within 100 meters of running aground before it was able to restart one of the engines.


Initial findings, according to the interim report, were:

  • The lubricating oil sump tanks of all the diesel generators were maintained at 28%–40% capacity. MAN’s recommendation was to maintain them at 68%–75% capacity.
  • The diesel generators shut down as a result of the loss of lubricating oil suction due to low sump tank levels, combined with pitching and rolling.
  • All three operational diesel generators shut down within 19 minutes of each other, causing blackout and loss of propulsion.
  • AIBN estimate that Viking Sky came within a ship’s length of grounding, having passed over or in immediate proximity to 10 m shoals, before propulsion could be re-established


The safety advice issued by the Norwegian Maritime Authority is supported by the ongoing safety investigation, with the following recommendation:

All vessel owners and operators are recommended to ensure that engine lubricating oil tank levels are maintained in accordance with engine manufacturer’s instructions and topped up in the event of poor weather being forecast.


The investigation is ongoing. Areas of further investigation include:

  • Engine room alarm management
  • Passage planning
  • Decision support
  • Lubricating oil management
  • Evacuation and Life Saving Apparatus
  • Safety management
  • Local weather conditions and bathymetry
  • Safe Return to Port

Download the interim report HERE

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