May 5, '08 (morning):
Oops! The luxury cruise ship Mona Lisa, pictured above with her red stack colors, is presently stranded on a sand bar off the Latvian Coast. According to Coast Guard authorities some 984 passengers are being transferred to two navy ships [see update below]. No one is in danger and the ship has not been damaged, according to reports from the vessel's captain and crew. The passengers will be eventually shuttled to Riga. It's not clear if they will resume their vacation but there's no doubt the mistake will coast the cruise ship company and their insurance carrier plenty. I'm guessing the captain will probably lose his job, unless there was an unavoidable situation that led to the grounding, e.g. a mechanical failure, collision avoidance decision, etc.
May 5, '08 (afternoon): As of this afternoon, only 650 passengers, mostly elderly, and 11 crew members, have been evacuated from the ship. The captain has asked the remaining crew of 322 to stay behind.
If you're going to kiss the earth in a boat, it's best to do it on a sand bar. I've done it more than once in my little stink pot, never with passengers, and always for a reason, i.e. I was usually trying to sneak the boat over shoal water.
Mona Lisa, according to reports, was aground 4 years ago off the coast of Venice, Italy.
May 6, '08 (morning): Tugs failed to free the Mona Lisa. 650 Passengers on their way to their homes in Germany and elsewhere. Comments by some passengers indicate grounding was due to a decision made by captain to get the ship in closer to a light house so passengers could get a better view and photographs.
The video below, embedded from the WKRG News Website, shows the ship aground. You can see a few tugs, a RIB, and what looks like a Vosper-Thornycraft patrol boat. Some black smoke trails from the stack.
May 7, '08 (final entry): Tugs from Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark free the Mona Lisa from the sand bar and tow it to deeper water. Minimal damage. Ship will sail under its own power to its home port. Officials claim grounding was caused by a crew navigational error.
PS. What a beautiful ship. The Scots built some of the sexiest ships afloat.
PPS. PSIX Vessel Info below:
Vessel Name: MONA LISA
Hull Number: 728
Vessel Flag: BAHAMAS, THE
Vessel Call Sign: GBBA
Build Year: 1966 Service: Passenger (Inspected)
Length: 660.0 ft
Breadth: 87.0 ft
Depth: 50.6 ft
IMO Number: 6512354
Service Information: Tonnage Information:
Service: In Service
Out Of Service Date: N/A
Last Removed from Service By: N/A Deadweight: 5572
Gross Tonnage (GRT): 28891
Net Tonnage (NRT): 11005
Gross Tonnage (GT ITC): 28891