Dockyard drama: An officer looked on as divers and marine experts assessed the damage to the two cruise liners. *Photo by Margot & Robert Harvey
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19: Little more could have been done to prevent a cruise ship breaking free of her mooring lines and colliding with another liner as winds of more than 70 knots suddenly hit the west end.
This according to shipping expert Captain Joseph Murphy who lectures at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
The Master Mariner told the Bermuda Sun that the Norwegian Star’s crew had acted in an “exemplary fashion” in getting the ship under control after it had ripped away from the Heritage Wharf.
And he praised the efforts of islanders and shoreline workers who came to the aid of the stricken vessel.
Professor Murphy described the incident as a ‘freak accident’ caused by the onset of a major weather ‘microburst’.
He added: “From a procedural standpoint the ship’s crew operated in a professional manner. Their contingency plans were executed extremely well.
“Looking at what has happened in this incident I am very impressed with the professionalism of everyone involved on land and on the ship.
“You are very fortunate as an accident as serious as this can result in loss of life or significant damage to the ship”
On Monday Government announced a full investigation had been launched into Friday’s accident to see what lessons could be learned.
The Norwegian Star ripped away from its berth at around 1:30pm as a major squall swept over the west end.
It made brief contact with the neighbouring Explorer of the Seas that was alongside at King’s Wharf.
The crew quickly dropped both anchors and managed to get the bow thruster started to keep the ship in one position until two tug boats could come to its assistance.
Both ships sustained minor damage as a result of the collision but nobody was injured.
Professor Murphy told the Sun: “This kind of event does happen from time to time, especially on ships with high front bows along the East Coast of America.
“These microbursts of weather simply overwhelm the mooring systems of the ship. The mooring equipment on ships like this is very precise and made specifically for the class of ship.
“Could they have put more lines out? Yes they could. But the only way of preventing something like this is communication between the port and the ship.
“These kind of microbursts happen very quickly so there is often not enough time to get word to the ship or act. There is not really much you can do.”