Day Tripper Rammed in Budapest, Significant Death Toll

A Viking river cruise ship was moored in Budapest after it collided with a smaller sightseeing boat on Wednesday evening, killing at least seven South Korean tourists. (AP Photo/Laszlo Balogh)

There is only one or two small spots on the starboard side that looks like damage. If that is the wheelhouse on top then I am beginning to understand why the Viking Sigyn had no visual of the Mermaid.


Couldn’t see the wheelhouse on the videos. This could explain a lot. Like looking over stacks of containers and having small cross traffic disappear under your nose. In heavy traffic with smaller boats, the location of the wheel house would warrant a bow lookout.

I could be wrong but I think that the overtaken vessel was seen way in advance …

You would have to go very close by to lose the head of the boat driver …

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I agree that the larger vessel should have been aware the of the Mermaid and slowed down before he got so close to it. The strong head current should have made that possible without him loosing steerage way. He may have lost sight of him and miscalculated the difference in their speeds as they approached the bridge. The Venturi effect of the high fast flowing current under the arches of the bridge may have fooled the pilot in the larger vessel into thinking that the Mermaid had already gone through not realizing that the smaller vessel was bucking a faster current relative to its waterline.

The video released earlier by Hungarian police showed the Mermaid traveling closely side by side and in the same direction as the German-built Viking cruise ship as they approached the bridge Wednesday night. The Mermaid then appeared to steer or was forced by the hydrodynamic interaction during overtaking, to its left into the path of the 135-meter (443-feet) long cruise ship, which continued to sail on at the same speed. The two collided and the sightseeing boat was then seen tipping on its side between the bridge’s two supports, struck a pillar, and then sank in seven seconds.

I think that the Viking Sigyn, due to its size and the wheelhouse high on top, had to follow the center line as close as possible to avoid damage and also because the water level was higher than normal due to the heavy rainfall, leaving less overhead clearance. Therefore under these circumstances there was little room left to overtake another ship at a suitable distance. As a result he two ships were forced to sail too close together which increased the hydrodynamic power caused by the proximity.

This theory is confirmed by a new video of the accident. At the very end it can be seen that the Mermaid was forced off course. Overtaking should never have occurred.


Interesting video, for sure. I note what appears to be a number of people moving around on the top deck of the Sigyn in front of the wheelhouse - passengers or crew?

Look at the photo at post 22 with an overview of the top deck. This is clearly a passenger area. Maybe one or two crew members with drinks…

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Yes, it certainly is (at least at times) a passenger area, but on a cold, rainy night while navigating through a restricted area?? Given the wheelhouse location, if I were manuvering in mediocre visibility I wouldn’t want passengers in that area. The tables and chairs visible in that photo are clearly removable, and don’t appear to be present in the incident video.
Though it would make more sense to have a lookout one deck down out on the bow, that location would tend to block the passenger view out the forward windows.



Also on the Mermaid the silhouettes of passengers on deck, under the awning, can be clearly seen. One or two seconds later they are thrown overboard and seven of them were lucky enough to have survived the accident. Quite a dramatic picture.



A 6-plus knot current flowing around large bridge pilings supporting low narrow arches combined with darkness, fog, flood runoff, bright lights and heavy traffic was a situation that demanded everyone be on their best game.

That about sums it up…

Some of these boats have retractable (lowering)wheel houses to aid in passing under bridges during high water. That may be a factor also

That is indeed a hi-lo wheelhouse, but it looks a lot like it was in the high position. IIRC, the bridges in Budapest have 8+ meters clearance, but the charts are a bit spotty.

What I don’t see in the video is any obvious lookouts. Transiting Budapest with a 135 is something you want to do with a lookout on each corner, never mind under those conditions. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that is spelled out in the regulations.

As has been mentioned, allowing passengers to mill about in the captain’s field of view was obviously not the best call, but I see how it might have come about. Passing the Budapest parliament at night is one of the high points of a Danube cruise, so there is an obvious incentive to compromise best practices.

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The upper drawing shows the deck plan of the sun deck with the wheelhouse. The lower drawing shows the deck beneath it, the upper deck with the bar just below the wheelhouse. However, it is conceivable that the wheelhouse can be lowered a bit, one meter or so. The position of both the bar and the wheelhouse donot match perfectly but then how accurate are such drawings?

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Sonar image of the Mermaid taken with sonar equipment provided by Norway, probably Kongsberg, For more pictures see here.

A composite picture showing the sonar image superimposed over Google Earth graphics.

In the mean time a body was found near Harta, around 90 kilometres from the scene of the accident. The current water speed of the Danube is 7.8 miles/hour. Due to this the authorities have forbidden divers to enter the hull.

The crane ship Clark Adam is, as it is described, a maintenance craft, cable ship and dredger and named after the Scottish engineer who designed the famous Chain Bridge in Budapest. To approach the unhappy ship with the crane, the Margaret Bridge is a bottleneck, it should fit underneath, but it needs 400 cm or less of water. Forecasts for Budapest indicate a 391 cm water level on June 8, ie Saturday. It is feared very much that the 70 year old ship, with a number of bodies still inside, will break during the lifting operation.

The cruise ship Viking Indun.

According to Hungarian justice, the captain of the cruise ship that was involved in a fatal collision in Budapest last week has already caused, only two months ago , a collision in the Netherlands. Hungarian media reported this on Thursday. As it turns out the Ukrainian captain seems to be some sort of a lump pilot.

The incident in the Netherlands concerns a collision on 1 April near the city of Terneuzen. Shortly after midnight the river cruise ship the Viking Idun on the Westerschelde bumped into the tanker Chemical Marketer. Both ships were damaged by the collision. The captain, who has been detained in Hungary since Thursday, is said to have been at the helm of the Viking Idun. Five were slightly injured aboard that ship.

Justice in Hungary also announced on Thursday that the captain erased data from his telephone after the accident in Budapest. It is not clear what the data were. The prosecutors suspect him of recklessness on a public waterway. According to Ukrainian lawyers, the man did nothing wrong. Well, that is good to know.

gCaptain reported at the time about the incident. For more information about the tanker and photos of the damage see here.


The area of the impact is marked in red.


This photo gives a good impression of the considerable mostly above water line damage caused by the Viking Indun, a true can opener operation.

I like that. Captain Lump.

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I also.