Fire forces evacuation of 51 passengers from cruise ship in Southeast Alaska

Wilderness Discoverer
Wilderness Discoverer(Picasa | UnCruise Adventures)
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 1:09 PM AKDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 7:37 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Members of the U.S. Coast Guard responded to a fire onboard a small cruise ship in Glacier Bay National Park on Monday.

All members on board the ship Wilderness Discoverer were safely rescued, according to the Coast Guard.

In a press release, a fire was reported on the 176-foot expedition ship around 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

Crews of the cutters Pike and Anthony Petit were dispatched from Juneau to Glacier Bay, where all 51 passengers and 16 crew members were rescued from the vessel, which houses 34 cabins. Air Station Sitka also assisted with the deployment of their MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, and resources from the National Parks Service were used as well.

No injuries were reported and the fire has been extinguished, Coast Guard crews report.

”Our primary concern is ensuring the safety of the passengers and the crew,” Sector Juneau command duty officer L.t. j.g. Maximilian Carfagno said. “The quick launch of our assets and the teamwork among the Sapphire Princess helped in the timeliness of this rescue.”

Those onboard the Wilderness Discoverer were transferred to the Sapphire Princess cruise ship. Some crew of the Wilderness Discoverer have stayed aboard and will rendezvous with the tug boat Taku Wind for tow to Ketchikan.

The owner and CEO of Uncruise, which operates the vessel, expressed gratitude that no one was injured in the emergency.

“We are relieved to confirm that there have been no injuries resulting from the fire. Our highly trained crew promptly extinguished the fire using established emergency protocols, and CO2 was successfully deployed for everyone’s safety,” Dan Blanchard said in a press release.

Uncruise, which bills itself as an environmentally-conscious alternative to large cruise ships, also said that the efforts to extinguish the fire and relocate passengers did not result in significant impacts to the environment.

“In adherence to our commitment to environmental responsibility, we have conducted thorough assessments, and we are pleased to report that there are currently no discernible environmental impacts within the affected area. Local and federal authorities have been promptly notified, and we are working closely with them to ensure a coordinated response in the area,” Uncruise said in a press release.

The cause of the fire, which was confined to the engine room of the ship, has yet to be determined.