IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – Irving-based company CHC Helicopter deployed search-and-rescue teams over the weekend to safely airlift hundreds of people off a cruise ship amid treacherous conditions off the western coast of Norway.
The Viking Sky ship sent a distress signal Saturday due to engine problems in bad weather. The vessel in rough seas in the Hustadvika area and rescuers faced massive waves of about 19-26 feet high.
More than 1,370 people were aboard.
CHC rescue teams safely airlifted hundreds of people off the distressed ship —including dozens of U.S. citizens — even as the ship was tossed amid 25-foot waves and drifting toward the rocky shoreline.
The rescue operation lasted more than 18 hours, evacuating more than 400 passengers by air. During each mission, passengers were hoisted by then transported to safety.
Four CHC aircraft – two all-weather search and rescue configured Sikorsky S-92s and two Airbus AS332s – supported the rescue efforts, according to the company. The rescue operation was manned by twelve pilots, six hoist operators, seven rescue swimmers, one system operator, and two engineers, with support from CHC’s Global Operations Center in Dallas.
While the cruise ship rescue operation was underway, a second incident occurred nearby at sea during early evening. Cargo ship “Hagland Captain” got into trouble in the same waters and the crew members needed to be evacuated. A fifth CHC helicopter, along with a coast guard aircraft, provided rescue support to the distressed ship.