A Russian research ship is detained in Denmark in a lawsuit over a Canadian Arctic accident

The ship ran aground in the Northwest Passage in 2018 while leased by a cruise operator.

By Nikolaj Skydsgaard, Reuters - November 5, 2021
The Russian-flagged research ship Akademik Ioffe in the Frobisher Bay, Baffin island, Canada in 2006. (Victor Morozov / CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

COPENHAGEN — A Russian state research ship was detained in a Danish port this week at the request of a Canadian cruise operator pursuing litigation in Canada, court documents show.

The vessel, Akademik Ioffe, operated by the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was held in the port of Skagen in northern Denmark on Nov. 1 while refueling there.

The move was requested by Canadian cruise operator One Ocean Expeditions, according to court documents seen by Reuters that said that the Akademik Ioffe had avoided a previous attempt to detain it in Portugal.

One Ocean Expeditions has filed a lawsuit in Canada against the Akademik Ioffe’s owner seeking damages over an incident on Aug. 24, 2018, where the ship, then leased to the tour operator for Arctic cruises, ran aground during a trip in Canada’s north.

One Ocean Expeditions, which says that the ship’s crew had not “paid attention to nautical charts”, is seeking damages worth $6.14 million, the documents show.

At the time of its detention in Skagen, 61 people, including crew members and research staff, were aboard the vessel.

The ship captain told local authorities he was aware of the grounding incident but thought the matter had been resolved, according to the court documents.

The Russian Embassy in Copenhagen said it had received “copies of the court decisions on the basis of which the arrest (of the research ship) was made,” and that embassy officials were in touch with the Danish Foreign Ministry on the matter.