Juan de Fuca Strait: ship's autopilot malfunctions

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Sun May 20, 12:28 pm

Cruse ship back in Seattle

A cruise ship bound for Alaska is back in Seattle after a system failure forced it to dock in Victoria overnight. The "Norwegian Sky" made a sharp turn in the Juan de Fuca Strait, injuring 50 passengers. While most were treated onboard the ship, 16 passengers were taken to hospital in Victoria with injuries ranging from bruises to fractures. Initial reports suggested that the boat listed to avoid a smaller vessel that had crossed its path but an official with the Seattle Rescue Co-ordination Centre says the problem stemmed from a failure in the autopilot system.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 20, 2001



Cruise ships swerves to miss fishing boat

VICTORIA -- The cruise ship "Norwegian Sky" is heading back to Seattle -- minus some of its passengers.

At least 16 people were injured Saturday when the ship had to make a sharp turn to avoid hitting a fishing vessel in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The captain radioed the Coast Guard that the ship didn't need any assistance, but did request that ambulances be standing by when it docked last night in Victoria.

Some of the passengers suffered fractures, but apparently there weren't any serious injuries.

One passenger told Seattle television station KIRO that she was hit by flying dishes and trays in the cafeteria.

The 76-thousand-ton "Norwegian Sky" has been on a week-long cruise out of Seattle with two-thousand people on board and is due back in port Sunday.

After it docked in Victoria Saturday night, some of the passengers refused to get back on board.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 20, 2001.

Passengers Injured When Cruise Ship Makes Sudden Movement By Mia Penta Associated Press Writer Published: May 20, 2001

SEATTLE (AP) - A cruise ship returned to Seattle on Sunday after a voyage during which the vessel suddenly listed sharply, injuring more than a dozen passengers and shattering glassware. "It was like the Titanic. People were flying around in chairs, The gift shop was destroyed," said Sharon Suttle, a travel-consultant manager from Greensboro, N.C., said at the dock. "I was afraid for my life. It was scary."

The jarring movement occurred when the autopilot failed. A crewman then had to disengage the autopilot, causing the rudders to swing and the ship to swerve momentarily, Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Scott Casad said Sunday.

Following Saturday's accident, 14 passengers were treated - some for broken bones - after the Norwegian Sky made a scheduled stop at Victoria, British Columbia, Richard Reeve, maritime coordinator for the Canadian Coast Guard in Victoria, said Sunday.

A computer error apparently led to the autopilot malfunction, Casad said. The Coast Guard cleared the vessel to continue operating but ordered that its autopilot not be used while an investigation continues, he said. The ship left Seattle and headed for Alaska Sunday evening.

Terry Gallagher, spokesman for Norwegian Cruise Line, said he had no further details Sunday afternoon.

Darren Morley, a Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue coordinator, said the ship's officers told him they had "experienced a large roll" at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Many passengers were in the dining room at the time.

"We had just finished lunch, and we heard a grinding noise and everything started tilting," said Judy Fields, 55, of La Grange, N.C.

"The ship sort of righted itself, then it happened again and everything fell off the table. It really felt like it was going to tip over," said Alice Crady, 71, of Tampa, Fla.

The 76,000-ton Norwegian Cruise Lines ship was carrying 2,000 passengers. The 853-foot vessel, which is based in Seattle, had left for Alaska on May 13. The cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage included port calls at Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay, Port of Seattle spokesman Doug Williams said Sunday.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca runs between Washington's Olympic Peninsula and Canada's Vancouver Island


-- Carl Jenkins (somewherepress@aol.com), May 21, 2001.

Last night one guy said in a tv interview that he was able to reach out and grab a handful of seawater--from the balcony on his tenth-floor suite!!!


Sun May 20, 6:50 pm

Cruise Ship Investigation Underway

Officials are trying to find out why the autopilot aboard the " Norwegian Sky " luxury liner malfunctioned. A number of passengers were injured when the ship had to swerve to apparently avoid a fishing vessel off Vancouver Island. The ship listed so severely that water emptied out of the swimming pools and an arcade game fell on a young boy. A number of people were treated in two Victoria Hospitals for fractures, sprains and bruises. The ship is now back in Seattle and the U-S Coastguard is investigating.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 21, 2001.


Mon May 21, 6:55 pm

Norwegian Cruise-Lines considers compensation

Norwegian Cruise-Lines is considering compensating a number of passengers who needed medical attention after a mishap in the Juan De Fuca Strait. The cruise line's spokesperson, Terry Gallagher, says the company is working out compensation on an individual basis. The US Coast Guard says 78 people were injured, when the auto-pilot on the 77,000 tonne Norwegian Sky disengaged, causing the vessel to list sharply. A thorough inspection revealed no damage to the rudder and the Coast Guard cleared the ship with the provision the auto-pilot not be used. However, other Norwegian cruise-liners are still using auto-pilot. There has not been any industry-wide directives as a result of this weekend's accident.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 22, 2001.

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