A cruise ship crew relied on an outdated map before the Alaskan pier attack

Over-reliance on an electronic chart, miscommunication and an outdated navigational chart were all factors in a cruise ship damaging a cruise terminal pier near Sitka, Alaska last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Tuesday.

The incident happened on May 9, 2022 when the cruise ship rays of the seas While docking at the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, the ship struck a mooring dolphin, causing a slight indentation in the hull and damage to three of the dolphin’s four support piers.

Although no injuries were reported to the 1,375 passengers, 782 crew and four pilots on board, the incident caused $2.1 million in damage to the pier and disrupted cruise ship traffic to the terminal for the remainder of the 2022 season.

The Sitka Sound cruise terminal pier is shown on June 9, 2022, with a barge alongside the damaged dolphin for repairs (with the catwalk removed). (Source: NTSB)

The NTSB investigation found that the crew of the rays of the seas relied heavily on the ship’s electronic chart and information system (ECDIS) and an outdated navigation chart to plan and execute the docking.

In April 2021, the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal pier was extended by 395 feet, including the addition of two mooring dolphins connected by a jetty and a 410-foot floating dock adjacent to the existing dolphins. However, the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal has not notified the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency responsible for updating US coastal charts, of the extension.

In fact, NOAA had no record of the construction until NTSB investigators informed them of the pier’s expansion after contact.

During docking, the boatswain and captain did not confirm the nature of the distances that were communicated during docking. The boatswain provided exact distances to the northernmost dolphin on the pier, but the captain mistakenly assumed that the boatswain indicated how much maneuvering room the ship would have when the stern passed the dolphin.

The NTSB concluded that the likely cause of the contact was that the captain and bridge team had relied too heavily on an electronic chart to identify the pier’s position relative to their intended filming location, and that the captain misread the clearance distances to the pier which the crew member called on the ship’s stern while the ship was turning. The Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal’s failure to report the pier’s expansion contributed to the incident.

NTSB investigators cited two lessons learned from the investigation: voyage planning and reporting port or terminal changes.

“Proper voyage planning involves developing a complete plan for each phase of the voyage – from the ship’s port of departure to its port of destination (berth to berth), including departing dock and mooring,” the report says. “Reference points for maneuvers should be identified, precisely measured and clearly indicated. Ship bridge crews should also ensure they have the most up-to-date data before sailing and consult with local pilots on the accuracy of navigation charts to ensure that port and/or terminal representations are correct.”

“Ports and terminals should promptly report any significant changes to port or terminal configurations to the appropriate hydrographic authority (such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) so that charts can be updated and the changes made readily available to ship owners, operators and crews. ” /Bridge teams,” the report said.

Marine survey report 23-10 is available on the NTSB website.

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