Empress of the North Cruise Ship Grounding Juneau Alaska – On May 14, 2007 At 1:30 am with only an inexperienced third mate on the bridge, the Empress of the North hit a charted rock ripping several holes in her hull, 49 miles west of Juneau, Alaska near Hanus Reef in Lynn Canal of the Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage.
Industry insiders say that the Third Mate usually stands the 8:00 pm-12:00am watch so that the Captain is awake and able to help out if there is trouble. But, in this case the accident took place when the captain was not on the bridge, leaving the Third Mate to navigate the vessel through the Inside Passage.
The Empress of the North makes voyages from Seattle, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, as well as trips along the Columbia River. The ship is owned by the Majestic America Line.
All 252 passengers and crew were evacuated from the Empress of the North by the U.S. Coast Guard and transferred to the Alaska Marine Highway ferry vessel Columbia for transit back to Juneau.
The vessel was moved to Ketchikan, Alaska with the assistance of two tugboats for repairs at the Alaska Ship and Dry Dock facility. Later, the vessel was moved south to Vigor Industrial’s shipyard in Portland, Oregon for repairs.
According to the Empress Of The North web page, it is billed as a luxury cruise ship, with “decor that conjures up 19th-century Russia at its height.” The ship holds 223 passengers, 84 crew, with 112 staterooms on the 360 foot long vessel.
Sailings have been canceled through the end of June.
This is the FOURTH recent grounding of the plagued Empress Of The North.
May 12, 2007, Empress had a dismal sanitation inspection, with a score of 91 that included 26 violations including “Several plates, bowls, and a small creamer pitcher were soiled with food debris.” This inspection was taken as a result of the failed inspection on February 25, 2007.
February 25, 2007 the ship CDC inspections results in a failing grade of 67 with over 60 violations. This is the worst scrore in a history of scores that range between 67 and 92 from September 5, 2003 to date. May 8, 2006 the ship barely passed inspection with a score of 87. A failing score is 85. Cruise Bruise considers a score of 96 to 100 acceptable.
March 24th, 2006, grounded on a sandbar near Washougal, Washington.