Rogue Wave Slams MV Explorer

January 29, 2005
Early Wednesday morning, the MV Explorer -- the ship operated by the University of Pittsburgh's Semester at Sea program -- ran into stormy weather and was hit by an extra-large wave that broke the window over the bridge, injured three crew members and disabled the ship's electronic engine control system. Media reports that say the wave was 50 ft. high could not be confirmed. The ship, Royal Olympic's former Olympia Explorer, had departed from Vancouver on January 18 and was on its way to Korea when the incident occurred. MV Explorer was carrying some 680 students, faculty and staff affiliated with Semester at Sea.

After the wave hit, crew worked quickly to manually restore one of the ship's engines, restoring it to full power within about 30 minutes, according to Semester at Sea spokesman Paul Watson. Within a few hours the crew restored a second engine, allowing the ship to proceed at normal speed.

Watson refutes earlier reports of broken bones among the crew and told Cruise Critic that none of the students or faculty associated with Semester at Sea were injured. Some furniture and equipment were, however, damaged during the storm.

Explorer had just begun its latest several-month long Semester at Sea program when it departed Vancouver on January 18. Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh-based Institute for Shipboard Education, the program offers college students at chance to "study abroad" at sea. Students combine classroom study onboard with educational field trips around the globe. Itineraries range from 65 to 100 days.

Watson reports that the ship has changed its course, heading to Hawaii to assess the damage and, hopefully, to continue the program after some minor repairs. A plane and a cutter have been dispatched by the Coast Guard to monitor the ship in case of further difficulties.