Anthem of the Seas Suffered Propulsion Damage in Storm

Diagram of an Azipod unit's steering mechanism (courtesy ABB)

By MarEx 2016-02-12 21:22:02

Anthem of the Seas, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship caught in a storm off Cape Hatteras on Sunday, has undergone a series of inspections administered by the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies since her return to port. Officials announced Friday that her propulsion system was damaged in the heavy weather.

Her port azipod burnt through “all four clutches” during the storm, and was shut down during her return trip as a precaution, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Coast Guard Sector New York public affairs officer Charles Rowe told Maritime Executive that he was unable to comment on the nature of the clutch failure or what effect it had on operability of the azipod. A Royal Caribbean spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm which components were affected.

Royal Caribbean said in an update post that it had informed the USCG of the clutch failure before the Anthem's return to Cape Liberty, and that a USCG spokesman had “indicated the ship can safely maneuver with a single azipod.”

Royal Caribbean publicly reported superficial damage to the vessel on February 8. “The ship has sustained some damage to the public areas and guest staterooms, which in no way affect the sea-worthiness of the ship,” said Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez on Monday.

Later that day, the firm announced that it had diverted the ship back to Cape Liberty and canceled the remainder of her voyage, citing a bad weather forecast ahead and the poor passenger experience during Sunday's storm. Martinez reiterated that “while the weather was unpleasant, the ship remained seaworthy at all times." The firm did not make public mention of the damage to the azipod at that time.

Work continues on repairs and testing, the USCG said, with technicians working to replace the clutches on both the port and starboard side azipods.

The USCG is also supervising testing of all SOLAS equipment. The ship's lifeboats sustained minor damage, the agency says, and it will be repaired and the boats thoroughly tested by the manufacturer.

The inspection and service appears to be on schedule for the Anthem's next sailing, but the USCG says that the Captain of the Port will not permit the vessel to leave until both port state and flag state (Bahamian) authorities are satisfied with its condition.

National Transportation Safety Board officials are also participating in an investigation of the circumstances of the Anthem incident, the USCG says. The NTSB has been asked to open a formal inquiry into the Anthem's presence off Cape Hatteras at the time of the storm.

According to cruiseshipschedule.com, the Anthem's next scheduled sailing is set for Saturday, February 13 at 1500 hours local time, and Royal Caribbean's customer service staff reportedly expect her to depart on time.