MS World Discoverer

MS World Discoverer was a cruise ship designed for and built by Schichau Unterweser, Germany in 1974. During construction called BEWA Discoverer, the ship was completed in Bremerhaven, Germany.

Wreck of MS World Discoverer as of July 2007
Name: World Discoverer (1975–2000)
  • BEWA Cruises (Denmark) (1974–1976)
  • Adventurer Cruises (1976–2000)[1]
Port of registry:
Yard number: 2250
Launched: 8 December 1973[2]
Acquired: 19 October 1975[2]
Refit: 1996
Fate: Wrecked April 30, 2000 after striking an uncharted reef in the Sandfly Passage
General characteristics
Type: Cruise ship[1]
Displacement: 3,724 GT
Length: 87.51 m (287.1 ft)
Beam: 15.12 m (49.6 ft)
Draft: 4.4 m (14 ft)
Depth: 8.72 m (28.6 ft)
Decks: 7
Installed power: 2 ×  MAK 8M452AK (2 × 1,760 kW)
Propulsion: Single propeller
Speed: 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph)
Capacity: 137 passengers in 76 cabins
Crew: 75 to 80
Wreck site
Coordinates: 9°01′23.17″S 160°07′22.91″E


The vessel was originally built as the BEWA Discoverer in 1974.[3] The ship was sold to BEWA Cruises out of Denmark. In July 1976, the vessel was sold to Adventure Cruises, Inc. and was renamed the World Discoverer. The ship also became a long-term charter to Society Expeditions. In 1976, the ship was registered in Singapore. In 1987, Society Expedition came under new ownership and was renamed Society Expedition Cruises, with offices in Seattle and Germany. The new owner of the ship was Discoverer Reederei who also has ownership of other vessels, such as MV Explorer. In 1990, she was registered in Liberia under the name World Discoverer. The vessel had a double hull construction, allowing for periodic voyages to the Antarctic polar regions to allow its passengers to observe ice floe movements and providing protection for minor impacts. In 1996, the ship was refurbished under the new name, World Discoverer. The ship carried a fleet of inflatable dinghies, allowing passengers to move closer to ice floes for observation.[4]

Service history

During the period from November through February (Austral summer), the ship conducted cruises in the Southern Hemisphere and visited places like Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Chile and Argentina. From March to May and August to October, the ship cruised the South Pacific Islands. Between the months of June and August, the ship cruised around the Alaskan region and also the Russian border around the Bering Sea. The World Discoverer was classified as a Swedish/Finnish 1A Ice Class, allowing the ship to withstand minor floe impacts.[5] The World Discoverer also had a 13,000 km (8,100 mi) cruising range, allowing the ship to travel the Northwest Passage.

The ship was captained by Oliver Kruess, who had previously crewed as Chief Mate. Society Expeditions also hired a small team of experienced expedition leaders to answer tourist questions concerning the region, ice floes, their movements, and the ship's destinations. A small fleet of dinghies landed passengers on various shorelines for observation of local wildlife in the area. Each day comprised typically two to three shore expeditions, led by geologists, historians, naturalists, and marine biologists. The ship was equipped with an observation lounge, medical center with an active physician, library, sun deck with a small swimming pool, small fitness center, and a lecture hall.[6]


On Sunday April 30, 2000, at 4 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), the ship struck a large uncharted rock or reef in the Sandfly Passage, Solomon Islands. Captain Oliver Kruess sent a distress signal, which was received in Honiara, the Solomon Islands' capital city. A passenger ferry was dispatched to the ship and all passengers were then transported to safety. The captain then brought the ship into Roderick Bay after the ship began to list 20 degrees and grounded it to avoid sinking. After underwater surveying of the ship, the World Discoverer was declared a "constructive loss". The ship has remained in Roderick Bay ever since.[7] There were no reports of any oil, petroleum or other pollutant spills as a result of the impact.

Michael Lomax, president of Society Expeditions, congratulated the captain and crew for their heroic and professional actions, saying that they performed in an "exemplary manner" during the crisis. The ship was scheduled to have its annual dry-dock inspection on May 11 when annual maintenance work would have been completed. Also planned were the addition of two additional suites on the boat deck and also the installation of a new fire protection system throughout the ship.[8]


The World Discoverer still sits in Roderick Bay of the Nggela Islands with a 46° list. The closest salvage companies to attempt salvage of the ship, stationed in Australia, found the ship ransacked by the locals and other factions. The Solomon Islands were undergoing civil war; the ship was boarded by locals who took the equipment and other critical devices. Tidal activity damaged the ship even more. The ship has been sustaining surface rusting with many of the windows removed. The ship became a tourist attraction with the locals of the island, as well as other cruise lines that pass by the World Discoverer, including MV Princess II. The ship can still be seen on Google Maps.[9][10] A salvage was attempted in 2000, but "abandoned after shots were exchanged with the local tribe"[11].

In the aftermath of the wreck, Society Expedition refurbished an ice-class vessel called the new World Discoverer, and it was launched in 2002, resuming cruises. Society Expedition ceased operations in June 2004 after their new vessel was seized by creditors in Nome, Alaska. Two weeks later, Society Expedition filed chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy in July 2004.[12]


  1. Equasis
  2. MS World Discoverer(in Swedish)
  3. Knud E. Hansen A/S on World Discoverer.
  4. Shipping News: Year 2000 passenger ship and cruise news from around the world. Maritime Matters.
  5. World Discoverer (2002). Retrieved on 2012-01-18.
  6. C’est La Vie. Pampered Elegance on the Burgundy Canal.
  7. "Google Maps".
  8. 'World Discoverer' Damaged in Pacific Incident Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine. 10 May 2000
  9. . the ship also is slowly rusting away, and without a proper salvage operation, the magnificent attraction will be lost forever. 'World Discoverer' on Google Satellite view. (1970-01-01). Retrieved on 2012-01-18.
  10. Oh Look, There's a Dead Cruise Ship In Google Maps. (2011-06-24). Retrieved on 2012-01-18.
  11. TMC Marine presentation TMC Marine (2019-07-04). Retrieved on 2019-07-11.
  12. The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Society Expeditions files for bankruptcy. (2004-07-01). Retrieved on 2012-01-18.
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