In Alaska & Greenland, Two Small Ships & A Plane Are Stopped Dead In Their Tracks... By Mud

New Trend In The North?  Muck, Mud & Sand Bring Down Two Small Boats & A Plane   The Lu-Lu Belle, Stuck Near Columbia Glacier (U.S. ...

New Trend In The North? 

Muck, Mud & Sand Bring Down Two Small Boats & A Plane  

The Lu-Lu Belle, Stuck Near Columbia Glacier (U.S. Coast Guard) 


The great Arctic & Subarctic is a perilous place. There's snow, ice, water, boulders, mountain cliffs, glaciers... But now, watch out for the mud. 

Two weeks ago, the Lu-Lu Belle, a glacier tour boat out of Valdez, triggered a flurry of stories and photos when 18 passengers had to be evacuated after the little ship unexpectedly ran aground on a muddy sandbar near Columbia Glacier. 

Then,  in mid-September 2023, just a few days ago, an Australian cruise ship, the Ocean Explorer, which was carrying 206 passengers and crew on a glacier cruise, ran aground, too. It was a repeat of the Lu-Lu Belle tale, and it happened on a muddy sandbar right next to another big arctic glacier, this one in Greenland. The Explorer was viewing a huge ice sheet at a Greenland national park when it came to an abrupt stop on a sandbar. It wasn't able to refloat at high tide. 

Finally, on September 12th, an unknown Alaskan pilot, trying to land on a remote airstrip, ran into a muddy sandbar, and wrecked his plane. 


FLOATING THE BOAT 

The Lu-Lu Belle – which has been expertly plying the waters of Prince William Sound for decades – caused quite a commotion when the boat unexpectedly became stranded after running onto a muddy sandbar. The water was too shallow.  There were stories and photos in all the Alaska media. 

But it was a pretty straight shot, effecting a solution. Valdez has a heavy Coast Guard presence, and when the distress call came in, a rescue helicopter and boat were sent out to help. The Coast Guard airlifted 18 passengers to the Valdez Airport that night, and the Lu-Lu Belle captain stayed and refloated the undamaged boat when the super tide rose. 


 HERE COMES THE DANISH NAVY  

UPDATE: By Thursday morning, September 14th, the morning news on national TV was reporting that a passing research vessel had pulled the Ocean Explorer out of the mud.

Several weeks later, the same thing happened in Greenland, when what is termed "a luxury cruise ship," the  Ocean Explorer, ran aground on a sandbar near a glacier – just like the Lu-Lu Belle did. 

But this time, the problem wasn't so easy to solve. For one thing, there are over 200 people on board the Explorer– ten times the number of people as the Lu-Lu Belle. And the Ocean Explorer, unlike the Lu-Lu Belle, is farther off the grid from help. Also, to compound the issue, there's been a Covid outbreak on the ship. 

Reports say that a fishing trawler tried to help free the ship on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023, but couldn't. So now the Danish Navy is sending in its version of the Coast Guard over to the glacier, according to the Guardian news site. It'll take a few days to get there. 

The Danish Navy's joint Arctic Command said in a statement that there was no immediate danger to human life, or the environment. When it got stuck, the tourists on board were viewing Greenland's massive ice sheet.  


MUD-AIR COLLISON

Then, in Alaska,  as if to get in on all the mud action, there was a September 12th Trooper report about another incident involving a craft getting stuck in the mud. This time it was a small plane.

At first, it sounded like a crash had occurred. 

The Trooper Report read:


It wasn't clear whether the reported "collision" involved two small planes, or a tree, cliff or other object. The Department Of Public Safety responded to an inquiry from the Country Journal, asking what the plane collided with and how many people were involved. 

The answer? The plane collided with mud. It was a mud-air collision. 

Replied John Dougherty, Department of Public Safety information officer:

"There was only one aircraft and one person on the aircraft. They were attempting to land on a remote airstrip and their aircraft sunk into the mud which damaged the plane." 



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