Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Finnish lies continue!

Recently we saw that a Viking Line ship M/S Amorella drove up against a rock and was run aground!

If one reads the stories on internet, it appears that the company did not learn its lesson of 38 years ago and continue to promote lies, as they did then!

Many people ask why Jacob and I do not ever travel on Viking Line.

Driving ships aground appears to be part of the tradition of the Viking line.

I will describe our experience on 15th August 1975.

We had come to Finland for a holiday in July 1975. We were scheduled to spend about a month in Finland. However, Indira Gandhi declared emergency in India. Some close friends of Jacob's, who were in the Indian Administration Service in New Delhi, sent Jacob messages not to immediately return to India as there were some problems related to my stay in India. (We returned in November instead of August as originally planned!

Luckily, as we were staying with my parents, there was not too much extra cost to carry on living in Finland. However, we were short of money.

As we had been living in England, I had left some money with my friends in England and our Barclays Bank was still active as I was not bound by Indian rules to close our bank accounts when we returned to India.

However, as there was no Barclays Bank in Finland, the only way was to go to Copenhagen in Denmark and draw the money from the branch there.

My brother, Eino, agreed to drive us there. We set off to Helsinki. We left or two daughters, Susanna (8) and Joanna (4) with my sister, Anneli, and her friends, while Jacob, Jaakko (7) and Mika (2) and me drove to Naantali on Western Finland to take the car on a ferry to Kapellskär in Sweden.

The reason we chose this route was it was the shortest and cheapest to do the crossing to Sweden. (It still is!!)

Official picture of MS Viking 1
Official picture of M/S Viking 1

Career Name: Viking 1 
 Operator: Viking Line (1970–1982) 
 Route: NaantaliMariehamnKapellskär 
 Builder: Meyer Werft, Papenburg, West Germany 
 Acquired: 19 August 1970 
 Identification: IMO number: 7018599 Fate: 
 Scrapped, October 2002 
 General characteristics 
 Tonnage: 4,239 GRT 
 Length: 108.68 m (356 ft 7 in) 
 Beam: 17.24 m (56 ft 7 in) 
 Ice class: 1 A 
 Propulsion: 5,965 kW (7,999 hp) 
 Speed: 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph) 
 Capacity: 1,200 passengers and 260 vehicles

We left Naantali on the M/S Viking 1 in the evening. We had a great buffet meal on the boat. We then settled the children in the bunks in the cabin and we went to the nearby cafe to enjoy an evening drink.

While we were relaxing, Annikki's brother commented that this was the best part of our trip.

Then suddenly there was a churning sound and all the curtains in the room started to shudder as the ship shuddered violently. Jacob commented that we had probably hit some rough weather, but one look out of the window showed it was a very calm sea. I knew that the propellers were churning backwards.

I ran to the cabin when the ship hit rock and it was obvious we were running aground.

Viking 1 (In Finnish. From Wikipedia)Rederiaktiebolaget Sallyn omistaman aluksen kotisatama oli Maarianhamina ja tunnuskirjaimet OGXO. Se liikennöi Suomen lipun alla.Viking 1 oli tulossa Naantalista Kapellskärin lauttasatamaan aamulla 21. marraskuuta 1971, kun ankara lumimyräkkä ja myrskytuuli painoi aluksen lujasti karille. Päällystö kuulutti jo lähestyessään satamaa, että laivan on vaikea päästä laituriin. Aluksella olleet 851 matkustajaa odottelivat kahvilassa , että veneet ehtisivät kuljettaa heidät maihin. Viking 1, jossa oli myös 10 yhdistelmäajoneuvoa ja 77 henkilöautoa, ei saanut karilleajossa vuotoja. Hinaaja avusti aluksen irti karilta ja alus siirtyi telakalle Tukholmaan tutkituttamaan vaurioitaan. Vuotojen ja koneiston siirtymisen vuoksi alus joutui olemaan poissa vilkkaasta joulunalusliikenteestä pari viikkoa.
Elokuun 15. päivänä vuonna 1975 Viking 1 ajoi Nauvon pohjoispuolella päin Järvisaarta. Väylä tekee paikalla lähes 90 asteen käännöksen, mutta alus jatkoi kulkuaan suoraan nousten saaren rantakalliolle. Potkurit ehdittiin kuitenkin kääntää ennen saarta jarrutusasentoon, joten vauhti hidastui ja vauriot jäivät vähäisiksi. Satamahinaaja Naantali ehti pian paikalle ja sai aluksen irti savisesta pohjasta yhdellä nykäyksellä. Alus pääsi omin avuin jatkamaan matkaansa Kapellskäriin, joten 407 matkustajan matka viivästyi vain 7 tuntia.

A look out of the window showed we were sitting atop an island with trees just outside of the window.

The crew was in chaos, while the passengers were even more in panic.

Jacob and I kept our nerve, collected the children, put on some clothes and went to the deck to survey the situation.

Slowly order was being restored. We knew we could jump off the ship too dry land!

The ship was supposed to do a 90 degree turn at that point and the person at the helm had forgotten this and driven the ship straight up into the island called "Järvi Saari" (Lake Island).

Now started the damage control by the captain and crew. They said that the matter was under control and they were organising for divers to inspect the bottom of the ship to assess the damage. They said that the tug boat to pull us off the ship would arrive and they would keep us informed.

I went back to the cabin with the children while Jacob stayed on deck to keep watch on things.

At about 7 in the morning, Jacob noted many crew members being herded into the dining room where they were served breakfast. Just at that time the helicopter arrived with the journalists. The passengers were kept well away from the journalists while a set up scene of the crew meeting the journalists as passengers was  organised.

The helicopter went away with their false story.

By that time 2 tugs arrived and attached the tug lines to the ship. As they pulled to try to pull the ship back into the water, one tug line snapped making the ship lurch violently. It could have well turned on its side!

They attached another tow line and the experienced tug captains this time very carefully got the ship off the island.

By the time we reached Kapellskär it was late on Friday afternoon, a delay of several hours.

We had to drive right across Sweden to Copenhagen taking the boat ferry from Helsingborg. We slept on the roadside under and in the car and we reached Copenhagen on saturday morning.

This was a wasted trip as banks were not open in Copenhagen on Saturday. We went to the parents of Jacob's friend, Viney Sethi, who was married to a Danish girl. They were very kind and gave us a hearty late breakfast and the we had to drive back all across Sweden to reach Kapellskär as we had to cross on the ferry back to Finland.

We found a different boat but the crew was the same as had brought us over - which was rather disconcerting.

The trip back was without event. We reached Helsinki, picked up the girls and drove back to Oulu.

Jacob wrote an article "Vikings invade Järvi Saari" and sent it off to the ship owners explaining the issues and our losses. They were extremely angry to get this letter as they were trying to cover up the incident as a mechanical failure.

This could have never been, as at 10 at night in summer, it was bright sunshine, so it was obvious the guy at the helm had lost concentration or gone to sleep! The captain was in the dining room just at that time as we saw him when we were finishing our dinner!

The Finnish version from Wikipedia shows that even 38 years on, there is the continuation of the lie - but they forgot that there were some witnesses - Jacob and I being among them!

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