In response to my inquiry on social media for the identity of the master of the Viking Sigyn (photo below) who was recently involved in the deadly collision on the Danube River, several crew members (who wish to remain anonymous) identify him as Yuriy Chaplinsky.
The police in Hungary arrested the master on suspicion of “endangering waterborne traffic resulting in multiple deaths.”
In Hungary, newspapers (and public officials) do not disclose the full name of people accused of crimes. Instead, the Hungarian police identified him only as “C. Yuriy” from Odessa, Ukraine.
As previously reported, the Viking Sigyn collided with a Hungarian sightseeing boat, the Hableany (“Mermaid”), operated by the Panorama Boat company, on the Danube River on May 29th. Thirty-three South Korean tourists and two Hungarian tour guides were aboard the sightseeing boat when the Viking Sigyn struck the smaller vessel in the stern as the two vessels were heading toward the Margit Bridge in central Budapest. Seven people were rescued, nineteen bodies have been pulled from the river and nine souls are still missing.
You can see video of the two ships approaching the bridge here.
Hungarian prosecutors are now stating that master of the Viking river ship was also the master of the Viking Idun (photo right) when it collided with a tanker in the Netherland two months ago. He is reportedly being investigated for his involvement in that collision as well, according to Hungarian prosecutors. According to the Washington Post, Viking states that, unlike the situation with the Viking Sigyn when he was at the helm, Master Chaplinsky was not navigating the Viking Idun at the time of that particular collision.
Viking denied that any passengers aboard the Viking Idun were injured, although news accounts (which vary) indicate that as many as five people were injured. At least one crew member was taken to the hospital.
Captain Chaplinsky, through his lawyer, denies responsibility and expresses remorse for the deadly collision involving the Viking Sigyn. His lawyer apparently has not made a public statement regarding the Viking Idun accident.
According to Reuters, the prosecutors in Hungary said that the captain had “deleted data from his phone” after the collision in Budapest. They said it was unclear whether the data was related to the accident.
A couple of years ago, Condé Nast Traveler published an article titled Onboard the Viking Idun: Photos from my River Cruise in the Netherlands. Included in the article was a photograph of captain Chaplinsky (above) and a brief summary of his eleven years (as of 2012) with Viking River Cruises. The article states that he “began his career piloting cargo ships around Europe’s waterways.”
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June 14, 2019 Update: Arirang News Ukrainian captain of cruise ship that hit tour boat in Budapest released on bail, search continues for missing. “The Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn cruiser, identified as Yuriy Chaplinsky, was released from custody on Thursday, after a Hungarian court upheld its earlier decision to grant him bail, despite the prosecution’s appeals for him to stay under lock and key. His bail was set at 53-thousand U.S. dollars. Upon his release, the captain covered his face with paper and did not respond to any reporters’ questions. The captain’s lawyer said his client is very sorry, but the captain denies being responsible for the collision.”
Image credit: Main photo – Master Yuriy Chaplinsky – Condé Nast Traveler / Deborah Dunn; top – Viking Sigyn collision – screengrab from ATV Magyarország YouTube; middle – Viking Indu collision – Twitter/GAINFRA_ZW7/omroepzeeland; bottom – Captain Chaplinsky released on bail – Arirang News.