Due to lack of funding the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICC) is too ill equipped to respond to large scale accidents at sea.
Auðunn Kristinsson, project manager for the ICC told dv.is that the organisation is “completely unprepared” for an accident of a serious magnitude and that serious investment is needed.
The ICC only has a single rescue vessel at sea at any given time, which means that it could take up to 48 hours for rescue to arrive, despite the average life expectancy of passengers in lifeboats being just 24 hours. This means that the risk of casualties is considerable and ever present.
“It is clear that if a large cruise liner sails into trouble we will be unable to respond effectively. It is a real nightmare scenario,” Auðunn said.
Small neighbour better prepared
Despite the total population of the Faroe Islands being just under 50,000, compared to Iceland’s 330,000, the archipelago is actually better prepared for ocean catastrophe than Iceland. Two ships are at the ready there at all time and usually the Danish Coast Guard maintains a single vessel there as well.
Increasing number of ships places further strain
A record number of cruise liners are expected in Icelandic waters this year, with 155 ships set to dock in Reykjavík, with around 130,000 passengers. This is a considerable increase from last year, when the number was 113 and around 100,000 passengers.