March 14, 2017
(Updated: 5:40 p.m. GMT): Noble Caledonia has revealed it is working with the Indonesian Government -- and a local reef assessment expert -- to establish a "fair and realistic" settlement to cover the damage caused to a coral reef by Caledonian Sky last week. In a statement, the line said: "We are working with local experts to understand how we can assist with the regeneration of the reef. We value our relationships around the world with local people and we are sorry to have impacted the local community. To this end Noble Caledonia has established a fund with the aim of helping the local population and contributing to the repair of the reef. We would like to send our own Expedition teams to help with the regeneration."
(10:40 a.m. EST) -- Caledonian Sky, a 114-passenger expedition vessel owned by Noble Caledonia, was refloated after running aground off the coast of Indonesia.
All 102 passengers and 79 crew members were safe, and there was no need to evacuate the 4,290-tonne ship following the incident, which happened around noon on Saturday, March 4. There was superficial damage to the hull; following an underwater inspection, Caledonian Sky has continued on a slightly amended version of its 16-night sailing from Papua New Guinea to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched amidst concern about damage caused to the coral reef near Kri Island, off Raja Ampat, and how the ship ran aground. On its Facebook page, the local tourism organisation Stay Raja Ampat asked: "How can this happen? Anchor damage from ships like these is bad enough, but actually grounding a ship on a reef takes it to a whole new level."
In a statement released today by the British-owned small cruise specialist, a spokesperson said Noble Caledonia was co-operating fully with the relevant investigating authorities.
Describing the incident as "unfortunate," the spokesperson said: "Noble Caledonia is firmly committed to protection of the environment, which is why it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures".
He said the ship was operating in a remote area off Kri Island when it grounded on an unchartered shoal.
"The relevant authorities were immediately informed, and divers inspected the underwater part of the hull," he said. "The inspection revealed that the hull was undamaged and remained intact. The ship did not take on water, nor was any pollution reported as a result of the grounding. The vessel was relfloated on the next tide and was anchored safely nearby to allow a full assessment of the hull and machinery to be made. That inspection revealed nothing more than superficial damage and after liaison with the relevant local authorities, the ship sailed to take up a slightly revised version of her planned itinerary."
The vessel set sail from New Britain Island on February 25 and is scheduled to arrive in Manila on March 14.
--By Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic contributor