Speed, Insufficient Oversight Caused Cruise Ship Allision
The U.S. National Safety Transportation Board has released a report saying too much speed and too steep of an angle of approach resulted in the May 8, 2016, allision involving the cruise ship Carnival Pride. The incident resulted in more than $2 million in property damage.
The vessel allided with the pier at Cruise Maryland Terminal, South Locust Point, Baltimore Harbor, Maryland, resulting in the elevated passenger embarkation walkway falling and crushing three vehicles parked below on the pier.
No fatalities, injuries or damage to the environment were reported.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the Carnival Pride’s allision was the staff captain’s errors during the docking maneuver, approaching the pier with excessive speed and at too steep an angle, and the captain’s insufficient oversight during the maneuver.
The Carnival Pride's staff captain (second in command) had the conn of the vessel and allowed the vessel to approach the pier too fast and at an angle too steep. The staff captain, upon recognizing the situation, attempted to shift to manual controls but was unable to assume manual control at the bridge wing station.
A Maryland pilot was aboard the vessel but had transferred conn of the cruise ship to the ship’s staff captain for the final approach and docking per the agreement between the Association of Maryland Pilots and passenger vessels berthing at the cruise ship terminal.
The pilot stated that on the day of the accident the vessel was approaching faster than normal. Statements from the Carnival Pride’s bridge team confirmed the pilot’s assessment that the speed was faster than normal during the approach.
The staff captain allowed the vessel to approach the pier too fast and at an angle too steep because he misjudged the power available in the joystick mode for correcting the maneuver. In the seconds it took him to assess that the joystick control would not be enough, in his opinion, to slow the ship, he lost valuable time in shifting to manual control. In his haste to shift control, he was unable to assume manual control at the bridge wing station, an event the staff captain could not explain.
The vessel’s operating company was not able to replicate the failed transfer of control from the joystick mode to the manual mode during testing on subsequent voyages. Thus, the company has been unable to determine a cause other than possible human error.
This excerpt of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chart 12281 depicts the approach to the Cruise Maryland Terminal, South Locust Point, Baltimore Harbor, Maryland, via the Patapsco River. The red star denotes the accident location and the red line shows the track of the Carnival Pride as it proceeded to the berth on May 8, 2016. (NTSB graphic)
The full report is available here.