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Human error is acknowledged by Princess Cruises as the cause of Crown Princess accident. This disputes the notion that the steering malfunctioned and early reports from Crown Princess representatives that something mysterious went wrong with the steering system:
As it turns out there wasn't an equipment or software problem aboard the Crown Princess, just a junior officer that did something stupid.
The skipper set the autopilot when he cleared for NY, the ship began it's swing to port, as programmed, and the skipper left the bridge, leaving the junior on the watch. All quite normal stuff. The junior looked over the instrumentation and got panicky over the autopilot's swing to port and turned off the auto pilot. He then tried a correction turn, but turned the ship harder to port, which caused the ship to list severely at that speed. I don't know if the junior corrected his blunder or if the skipper had returned to the bridge and eased the hard over helm, but the problem came out within minutes of the USCG arrival aboard the ship.
This is the first report of what actually occurred on the Crown Princess this last week.
Unconfirmed reports are coming out that there may be much more to the story. There is some information that the Crown Princess did not take on water ballast prior to departure from New York, which would have allowed it to save on fuel cost. There is further information that this would be against safe operation procedures and perhaps against regulations mandating ballast prior to leaving port. Water ballast provides stability to the ship. Without water ballast, the ship would have been far more prone to listing. If these reports turn out to be true, Princess Cruises could be subject to punitive damages for gross negligence.
Another contributor provides this information about a severe boat list back in February, 2006 aboard the Grand Princess:
My family was on the Grand Princess in February, on the first day out (approx. 4 hrs. from Galveston), when we "tipped". It was the most horrible day of my 63 years. We were never told what happened, never apologized to, was repeatedly told it was routine, and in general were left in the dark.
I am told by a Princess employee during disembarkation, that 44 semi's were loading merchandise to take care of everything broken on the ship. We were in the dining room when it happened and all of the dishes, stemware and etc. was broken. Everything in the gift shops including liquor all over the ship was broken, television sets and etc. I only learned in an article written about this accident that our ships problem was "human error". Duh! I think we all deserved compensation. Princess would not go back to port even though many of us wanted to go back. We spent a week aboard with not all of the amenities.
These reports confirm reports yesterday (7 ship list incidents recently) that ship listing is a common and severe danger on board cruise vessels. Ship owners must know this to be true. The only question now is what is being done to make sure it doesn't keep happening again and again....
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