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Video: Cruise Ship Narrowly Misses Dock in Venice's Giudecca Canal

By The Maritime Executive 2019-07-08 17:01:52

The regional port authority for Venice has launched an investigation after a cruise ship made a close approach to a pier during a passage through the historic Giudecca Canal. 

On Sunday, the vessel Costa Deliziosa was passing through the historic waterway during a severe storm, and bystander video from the scene indicates that she had a close encounter with a pier and a moored superyacht during the transit. Heavy rain, hail, lightning and gusts of wind are apparent from the footage, and the ship's horn can be heard sounding continuously. A tug on the Deliziosa's bow generates a large exhaust plume and pulls to starboard as the ship's port side nears the pier. 

A bystander identified the location of the incident as the San Biagio dock, located on a turn in the canal near the Church of San Biagio. A second account suggested that the location was slightly further to the southeast, towards Giardini della Biennale.

A spokesperson for operator Costa Cruises emphasized that "the commander has always maintained control of the ship even in conditions of extreme and sudden difficulty." Costa said that the "detour" was caused by "violent gusts," part of a "violent, extraordinary and sudden meteorological event." 

The line did not discuss the decisionmaking process prior to departure and whether her bridge team had planned on experiencing heavy weather. The Deliziosa has a beam of 100 feet, a length of nearly 1,000 feet and a large sail area; the historic canal is approximately 1,000 feet wide at its narrowest point, and it has a broad U-shaped turn in the middle.

The vessel was accompanied by three tugs, and Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli said that this legally-required escort was essential to preventing an allision. He added that more must be done to increase safety, and that the government will soon reach a solution to "remove large ships from San Marco" Basin, the bend at the canal's midpoint where the near-miss occurred. 

The Deliziosa continued onwards to her next commercial destination. 

Historic preservation advocates have called for a ban on large cruise ships in the Giudecca Canal. The activists cite studies showing that the passage of large vessels could accelerate erosion of the seabed in the area, further destabilizing the fragile firmament upon which the historic city rests. They are also opposed to the ships' exhaust, the potential risk of a marine casualty, and the large numbers of tourists which disembark from the ships in the city's core.