Seven injured when tour boat crashes into San Diego pier


An excursion boat returning to port after a harbor tour rammed a pier at San Diego’s Embarcadero, injuring seven of the 144 people aboard and damaging the vessel and structure.

The 150-foot Adventure Hornblower, owned by Hornblower Cruises & Events, struck the pier at about 1250 on March 31. Three of the injured were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and later released, according to fire department officials.

Damage to the pier was estimated at between $725,000 and $775,000, according to port spokeswoman Tanya Castaneda. An assessment carried out by Moffatt & Nichol consulting engineers found that the impact damaged about 25 feet of the pier, 261 square feet of paving stones, 299 square feet of sheet piling and the steel railing.

The Moffatt & Nichol report said that the pier was originally built in 1928 by the U.S. Navy and that underwater sections, including the concrete, had corroded. Just who will pay for the repairs — insurance, the port or Hornblower — is not yet known.

Jim Unger, general manager of Hornblower San Diego, would not disclose the extent of damage to Adventure Hornblower when responding to queries by Professional Mariner. “The incident is still under investigation by the USCG. As such, there have been no final determinations of cause, neither operator, nor mechanical,” he said via email.

A spokesman for the investigations unit of the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego said the probe into the cause of the incident is continuing. He declined to give further details.   

News reports shortly after the incident quoted San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Capt. Joe Amador as saying a mechanical malfunction apparently caused a gear to stick and prevented Adventure Hornblower from stopping.

A Coast Guard assessment immediately after the crash found that no oil or fuel was spilled.

By Professional Mariner Staff