Cruise Ship Sinking

Cruise Ship Sinking
Crown Princess Severe Listing July 18, 2006

Princess Cruises Crown Princess Severe Listing with 3,285 passengers and 1,260 crew members

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Crown Princess Severe Listing July 18, 2006

Princess Cruises Crown Princess Severe Listing 3,285 passengers and 1,260 crew members

At 1406 hours on July 18, 2006, the Bermuda-registered cruise ship M/V Crown Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, departed Port Canaveral, Florida, for Brooklyn, New York, on the last leg of a 10-day round-trip voyage to the Caribbean. It was the vessel’s fourth voyage after being christened in Brooklyn on June 14. A total of 4,545 persons were on board—3,285 passengers and 1,260 crew members. A Florida state harbor pilot had the conn—that is, was in control of the ship’s movement. The ship’s captain, staff captain (second in command on Princess Cruises vessels), relief captain, second officer, two fourth officers, and two helmsmen were also on the bridge. According to the captain, the wind was light, the sky was clearing, visibility was good, and the sea state was“slight” as they left Port Canaveral.

At 1437 hours, according to the ship’s log, the pilot left the bridge, disembarking soon afterward, and the captain assumed the conn. The captain then began increasing the ship’s speed in increments of 10 propeller revolutions per minute.

At 1456 hours, as recorded on the vessel’s VDR, the captain told the chief engineer, “We want to go as fast as we can for the time being for the weather.” The staff captain told investigators that the captain was hoping to “get ahead of” a developing storm along the vessel’s route. Around the same time, the captain shifted control of the engines to the engineroom. The chief engineer, now in direct control of the vessel’s propulsion system, continued to increase the ship’s speed.

From the dock to a point beyond where the pilot disembarked, the bridge crew controlled the vessel’s steering manually. At 1501 hours, on orders from the captain, the crew engaged the trackpilot, the autopilot function of the vessel’s integrated navigation system (INS). The INS on the Crown Princess was a NACOS (Navigation and Command System) manufactured by SAM Electronics of Hamburg, Germany.

The crew set the course to 100° in heading mode, one of three available steering modes in the trackpilot. According to the ship’s log, the seas were calm and there was a gentle breeze from the northeast. Shortly after the course was set, the captain noticed that the vessel’s heading was fluctuating, and he reviewed the trackpilot settings . According to the second officer, the course fluctuations were causing “quite an excessive rate of turn.” The second officer said that he asked the captain, “Would you like to go back into hand steering?” and the captain said, “No, I’ve got the conn.”

At 1505:06 hours, during the second heading fluctuation, when the rate of turn reached 9° per minute, the trackpilot’s rudder limit alarm sounded. According to the operating instructions for the NACOS, the rudder limit alarm indicates the following:

The set rudder limit value has been reached; with this rudder limit, the maneuver cannot be performed without a deviation, or, the present rudder angle lies outside the rudder limit. Remedy:

• Increase the rudder limit,

• Wait until the rudder angle becomes less than the rudder limit, or

• Switch over to manual steering.

After the alarm sounded, the captain called the staff captain over and said, “We’re wandering all over the place . . . we put her into NACOS-1.”12 At 1506:09, the captain said, “At the moment she is not responding other than 10 degrees at a time.” At 1506:27, the rudder limit alarm sounded again. The staff captain checked the INS settings. He told investigators that the rudder limit was set at 5°. VDR data show that the vessel’s speed was about 19 knots at the time.

About 1507 hours, the staff captain increased the rudder limit from 5° to 10°. At 1508 hours, the rudder limit alarm sounded again. At 1513, the vessel began a turn to port to intersect the first plotted track to New York. The course change, from a heading of 100° to a heading of 040°, was executed through several small adjustments to the autopilot’s set heading. The vessel’s speed had now reached 20 knots. The captain directed the second officer: “Stay in that turn . . . OK, we’ll run like that.” The captain then asked the second officer for the heading of the next navigation track.

The captain made several announcements over the vessel’s public address system after the event. Following the first announcement, he asked the senior physician on the vessel about the condition of any injured passengers. She recommended, and he agreed, to return to port to enable those who needed more extensive medical treatment than available on the ship to be taken to hospitals. The Crown Princess returned to Port Canaveral and docked with gangways down at 1836 hours.

The type and number of recorded injuries to passengers and crewmembers in the accident are listed in the chart below. Princess Cruises provided investigators with the names of 239 passengers who sought medical treatment, along with such information as cabin number, sex, age, date of birth, triage tag number, hospital, and injury description. Many names did not have entries for triage tag number or injury description. Princess Cruises also provided investigators with a list of 57 crewmembers who received injuries during the accident. The injuries were similar to those of the passengers.

Listed injuries included sore extremities, minor bruising, scratches, lacerations needing stitches, broken bones, and chest pains. Minor injuries such as scratches and bruises were not recorded. A medically trained passenger who

assisted vessel medical personnel in the dining facility, designated as a medical center in the event of a large-scale emergency, estimated that over 125 passengers were treated there. Investigators determined the number of injured passengers based on information provided by Princess Cruises and on records of shoreside hospitals and fire and rescue agencies.

The Safety Board obtained 57 medical records of passengers treated at local hospitals, 10 describing injuries considered serious. They included a passenger with a dislocated shoulder, a passenger with muscle tissue lacerations, and passengers with fractures to the ribs, humerus, wrist, or foot. The remaining passengers sustained minor injuries such as contusions, lacerations, sprains, strains, or reported pain. Injuries resulted primarily from people striking objects on the vessel or objects on the vessel striking people. An additional four seriously injured passengers were identified from the passenger questionnaires; no medical records were received for those passengers.

Princess Cruises, directed deck and engineering crewmembers on duty at the time of the accident to provide samples for toxicological analysis. Samples were obtained from the captain, staff captain, relief captain, second officer, fourth officer on watch, relief fourth officer, two helmsmen, and five engineering crewmembers. All samples

tested negative for the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs.

About 1600 hours, the Brevard County, Florida, sheriff’s office learned of the accident from the ship’s agent. The sheriff’s office contacted the fire chief at Canaveral Fire Rescue to advise him of the situation and to inform him of the need to transport between 20 and 50 injured people to hospitals. The fire chief activated the rescue service’s mass casualty plan and departed for the cruise terminal. Triage and transport vehicles were in place before the Crown Princess arrived.

Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral received initial notification of the accident from a passenger on the Crown Princess at 1550 hours. Coast Guard personnel in Port Canaveral established direct communication with the vessel, via VHF radio, around 1600 hours. The master reported a steering casualty that caused the vessel to abruptly turn, resulting in injuries to several persons on board. Station Port Canaveral briefed Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, which contacted Princess Cruises management. Company management informed Sector Jacksonville that the vessel planned to return to port. The Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) later issued a verbal order denying entry to the vessel until a Coast Guard marine inspector could board and verify that the steering gear was functional.

At 1710 hours, a Coast Guard 47-foot patrol boat departed Station Port Canaveral with two Canaveral Fire Rescue officers and two Coast Guard marine inspectors on board to meet the Crown Princess while it was returning to Port Canaveral. They boarded the vessel at 1733 hours. The marine inspectors observed a satisfactory basic steering gear test, which was completed at 1743 hours, and conveyed the information to the COTP. About 1800 hours, as the vessel continued its return to port, the COTP rescinded his order, and the vessel was allowed to enter the port. The vessel continued its return to Port Canaveral and lost no time en route as a result of these Coast Guard actions.

After the vessel docked at 1836 hours, helicopters airlifted two seriously injured people to hospitals. Ambulances then transported 101 people—93 passengers and 8 crewmembers—to local hospitals, four in the Cocoa Beach/Melbourne area, one in Orlando, and one in Daytona Beach. A total of 97 fire, rescue, and ambulance department personnel from 10 different agencies, with 9 fire engines, 21 ambulances, and 2 helicopters, responded to the accident, all under the command of the Cape Canaveral Volunteer Fire Department chief, who served as the incident commander.

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