The Viking Sky cruise ship came within a ship's length of running aground on shoals off the coast of Norway during a violent storm last March, according to an interim report on the incident from an investigative board.

The 750-foot Viking Cruises ship was trying to sail from Tromso to Stavanger when all three of its operating engines shut down and a blackout ensued, leaving the ship adrift.

The report from Norway's Accident Investigation Board found that lubricating oil levels in the engines were far below the levels recommended by the engine manufacturer.

It said the levels were maintained at 28% to 40% capacity, while the recommended level was 68% to 70%.

"The diesel generators shut down as a result of the loss of lubricating oil suction due to low sump tank levels, combined with pitching and rolling," investigators concluded.

The shutdown occurred in an offshore area called Hustadvika, which pilot manuals describe as "extraordinarily dangerous."

With no propulsion, Viking Sky drifted toward the rocky shore. The captain issued a mayday call, which led to a helicopter rescue operation that evacuated 479 passengers from the 930-passenger ship.

The captain concluded the seas were too dangerous to order passengers into lifeboats. He lowered both anchors to stop the drift, but the anchors failed to hold. The report said the ship "passed over or in immediate proximity to 10-meter (33-foot) shoals before propulsion could be reestablished."

The ship has a draft of 6.65 meters (nearly 22 feet).

After 24 minutes of blackout, engineers added oil to the engines and eventually restarted them but had to manage the electrical load manually, a difficult challenge, the report said. The ship was maneuvered toward open waters, with both anchors still lowered.

The interim report recommends that ship owners and operators ensure that engine lubricating oil tank levels are maintained in accordance with the engine manufacturer’s instructions and "topped up in the event of poor weather being forecast."

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