Cruise Ship Crew Relied on Outdated Chart Before Striking Pier in Alaska

This is an interesting case. On the one hand it’s very simple, all that has to be done is realize the stern is not swinging clear and give a bump ahead to clear the dolphin.


On the other hand the report is filled with technical details about the ECDIS, the stern radar, the camera etc:

A starboard bridgewing camera trained on the pier was also available to the
bridge team. The staff captain operated the camera, but the camera failed (due to a
hardware problem) as the vessel was rotating to port to back into the berth, leaving the
bridge team without a clear image of the pier and dolphins behind them. Once the
vessel began turning, the primary radar would not have been available due to a radar
shadow area astern. The Radiance of the Seas had an additional radar scanner as well as a camera on its stern, both of which were specifically in place and available on the
bridgewings to aid bridge teams in seeing objects aft of the ship during maneuvering
operations. The radar scanner and camera could have been used by the bridge team to
show objects—in this case, the pier and mooring dolphins—astern of the vessel, but the
bridge team did not use these tools. Instead, they relied solely on the ECDIS, which
showed an inaccurate ENC…

There was also a crewmember, the bosun, on the stern calling distances to the bridge. However instead of reporting that the stern was not going to swing clear the bosun was just reporting distances.

The NTSB report mentions that the bosun wasn’t briefed properly but the summary focuses on the various instruments.

Had the bridge team effectively used the technologies available to them to complete the turn and mooring maneuver, the casualty likely could have been prevented.

Given all the information the captain had from the various instruments he’d might very well have assumed the bosun’s reports were in error but I thought it was interesting the report frames the incident that way.

The NTSB report is here:


The VDR audio could be interesting…I suspect the pilots knew the operation was going sideways and, hopefully, attempted to alert the master. Not good, no matter how it went.

According to the report the captain, staff captain and “pilot 3” were on the port wing and the chief officer and “pilot 1” were on the stbd wing.

It is difficult to judge clearance aft from a wheelhouse forward. Especially in tight quarters. I have had third mates on the stern do something similar, give the distances directly aft rather than look to see where the stern was swinging.

Best to be clear with the mooring stations as to what you are looking for when asking for information from the wheelhouse. I do my best to clearly ask if the swing looks clear, or if in the case of “parallel parking”, when the stern or bow has cleared the other vessel in the berth. Having the “oh shit” contingency plan, be it hard over and kick ahead or a kick astern loaded in your brain as the situation unfolds is also preferred. Putting overreliance on your electronics is not something I suggest to anyone.


Need a tug deckhand calling it.
“35 meters and closing, no daylight”


Cruise ships have hundreds of these things called cameras showing every damn angle one could ever want…guess it’s a case of shit happens.

There’s a certain…bravado and “image” that comes with being a cruise ship captain and a lot of them and their staff captains think they can do the job better than pilots so it’s not uncommon for that to be the case.

The pilot (or pilots, in this case) certainly have an obligation to voice their concerns if they notice something going awry, at the very least to get it on the VDR. If the crew continues to ignore that…that’s on them.

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A really interesting case that should be taught in the classes. Lots of blame to go around, here. 1. The captain and crew had been to this dock earlier and never noticed the additional length? 2. They never got the memo about the additional length? 3. The pilots didn’t glance at the ECDIS and point out that the dock was different in a very important way? 4. The guy on the stern needs to have the self confidence to let the captain know that what’s currently happening isn’t going to work, and use plain language as necessary to get the word across. (Is there an IMO standard phrase?) There’s waay too much daylight at 0730 in the summer in Southeast Alaska to screw up like this.

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From the report it does seem like the captain was coming in a little hot.


From the photo there’s not a lot of room in there.


From this screen shot it makes a little more sense why the bosun was reporting distance aft to the dolphin.


I heard a Second Mate on the stern of a Dover - Calais ferry that was berthing stern first in thick fog say on his radio “So you are having a go at the dolphin now are you?” We stopped immediately.