Maritime Casualty News, June 2016

Cruise ship hits pier in Alaska

A cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises struck a pier in Ketchikan, Alaska, early this month while docking in strong winds.

The 965-foot Celebrity Infinity was preparing to land on the afternoon of June 3 when the vessel hit the pier. The accident caused minor damage to the ship’s hull above the waterline and destroyed a section of the cruise dock.

Nobody aboard the ship was hurt and there was no pollution, the Coast Guard said.

Video of the incident taken by onlookers shows the vessel lined up along the pier, then hitting the structure on the port side amidships. A portion of the pier’s passenger boarding walkway collapsed into the water after impact.

Local port officials said the accident caused several million dollars in damage.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan is investigating the incident.

Barges break away near Houston during high water

More than a dozen barges broke away from a fleeting area on the San Jacinto River near Houston during a period of flooding and strong currents.

Twelve barges broke free from the Kirby fleeting area just south of Interstate 10 at about 0805 on May 29, and at least three more barges broke away later that morning, according to a Coast Guard news release.

Authorities closed a section of the Houston Ship Channel after the incident between light 111 and light 128 until 1306, and continued restricting barge traffic until 1545, the release said.

Kirby Inland Marine, which operates the fleeting area, quickly rounded up 10 of the barges and crews later secured the other five barges.

The breakaway occurred during a period of heavy rain in south Texas that caused deadly flooding and extensive property damage. The San Jacinto River also set a record with a 7.9-mph current at the time of the incident, according to the Coast Guard.

Excursion boat grounds during wedding

A wedding celebration aboard a 113-foot excursion boat came to an abrupt end after the vessel grounded in Boston Harbor.

Boston Harbor Cruises’ Majesty was carrying 152 passengers and crew when the incident occurred at about 1900 on May 28, the Coast Guard said. The vessel grounded near George’s Island, home to an early American military fort.

None of the passengers were hurt and there was no pollution. The ship was not damaged.

The cruise company sent another vessel, Asteria, to retrieve Majesty’s passengers. By 2020 all passengers were off the stricken vessel and on their way back to Long Wharf.

Five crew stayed on Majesty and refloated the ship at about 0330 on May 29 with the rising tide.

Local media reported the cruise company suspended the captain after the incident. A statement from Boston Harbor Cruises suggested the grounding was caused by crew error. The Coast Guard is investigating to determine the official cause.

Historical casualty: June 1928

The steamship America left Duluth, Minn., on June 6 with passengers and packages on its standard run in Lake Superior. After discharging passengers at a hotel on Isle Royale near the Canadian border, the vessel left the dock for open water. It didn’t get very far.

While transiting Washington Harbor during the early morning hours, the 182-foot America hit a reef about 190 feet from shore, tearing a hole in its hull near the engine room that allowed water to rush inside. The captain attempted to beach the vessel but struck another shoal.

The passengers and crew‚ numbers of whom reportedly varied from 31 to 45, escaped into lifeboats and reached the shore. The steel-hulled vessel, built in 1898, sank very quickly and remained partially submerged with its wheelhouse and bow protruding from the water at nearly a 45-degree angle.

The boat shifted during the following winter and is now submerged along an underwater cliff up to 80 feet below the surface. Salvage plans were eventually abandoned. Over time, America’s sunken remains became popular with divers. 

By Professional Mariner Staff