Cruise Ship Sinking

Cruise Ship Sinking
Empress Of The North Grounding May 14, 2007

Majestic America Line Empress Of The North Grounded West of Juneau, Alaska Near Hanus Reef in Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska

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Empress Of The North Grounding May 14, 2007

Majestic America Line Empress Of The North Grounded West of Juneau, Alaska Near Hanus Reef in Lynn Canal in Southeast Alaska

At 1:30am with only an inexperienced third mate on the bridge, the Empress Of The North hit a charted rock ripping several holes in her hull, 49 miles west of Juneau, Alaska near Hanus Reef in Lynn Canal of the Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Industry insiders say that the Third Mate usually stands the 8pm-12am watch so that the Captain is awake and able to help out if there is trouble.

But, in this case the accident took place when the captain was not on the bridge, leaving the Third Mate to navigate the vessel through the Inside Passage.

All 252 passengers and crew were evacuated from the Empress of the North by the U.S. Coast Guard and transferred to the Alaska Marine Highway ferry vessel Columbia for transit back to Juneau.

The vessel was moved to Ketchikan, Alaska with the assistance of two tugboats for repairs at the Alaska Ship and Dry Dock facility. Later, the vessel was moved south to Vigor Industrial's shipyard in Portland, Oregon for repairs.

According to the Empress Of The North webpage, it is billed as a luxury cruise ship, with "decor that conjures up 19th-century Russia at its height." The ship holds 223 passengers, 84 crew, with 112 staterooms on the 360 foot long vessel.

Sailings have been canceled through the end of June.

This is the FOURTH recent grounding of the plagued Empress Of The North.

May 12, 2007, Empress had a dismal sanitation inspection, with a score of 91 that included 26 violations including "Several plates, bowls, and a small creamer pitcher were soiled with food debris." This inspection was taken as a result of the failed inspection on February 25, 2007.

February 25, 2007 the ship CDC inspections results in a failing grade of 67 with over 60 violations. This is the worst scrore in a history of scores that range between 67 and 92 from September 5, 2003 to date. May 8, 2006 the ship barely passed inspection with a score of 87. A failing score is 85. Cruise Bruise considers a score of 96 to 100 acceptable.

March 24th, 2006, grounded on a sandbar near Washougal, Washington. That story is here

March 16, 2006, Empress Of The North had a norovirus outbreak. 26 of 169 passengers fell ill (15.4%)

Nov 27th 2003, on a voyage up the Columbia River the vessel developed steering problems and ran aground 80 miles NW of Portland. Two crew and a passenger suffered minor injuries.

Oct. 24, 2003, grounding while transiting a lock on the Snake River.

UPDATE: DECEMBER 21, 2007
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the grounding of the Empress Of The North.

One aspect of the report says the Navigator on the bridge at the time of the accident was wet behind the ears, fresh of our the Maritime Academy, only 22 years of age.

The report says that he was newly hired with no formal experience and had no formal training on the riverboat-style cruise ship or in the Alaska waters.

Other Recent Cruise Ship Groundings

  • Island Champion - Sunday, April 15, 2007
  • MS Nordkapp - Monday, January 29, 2007
  • Sky Wonder - Wednesday, January 17, 2007
  • Statendam - Wednesday, December 6, 2006
  • Lyubov Orlova - Monday, November 27, 2006

  • Cruise Ship Accident Reference Books
  • Survival Was Only The Beginning - A Costa Concordia Story
  • Abandoned Ship: An intimate account of the Costa Concordia shipwreck
  • Grounding of U.S. Passenger Vessel Empress of the North
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
  • Sinking of The Titanic and Great Sea Disasters
  • Cruise Tourism in Polar Regions: Promoting Environmental and Social Sustainability
  • Cruise Awareness Buzz!