The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a Marine Accident Brief about the ‘Carnival Horizon’s’ 28th August, 2018 allision as the vessel was being manoeuvred to berth No. 2 at Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Pier 88 in New York City.
The cruise ship’s bow struck the southwest corner of adjacent Pier 90.
The 323.4 m long vessel had 6,361 people on board at the time. No one was injured and no pollution occurred, but Pier 90’s walkway, roof parking garage, and facilities suffered extensive structural damage, and the ship sustained minor damage above the waterline, totalling about $2.5 mill in cumulative damage.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the vessel’s contact with Pier 90 was the ineffective interaction and communication between the Master and the docking pilot who were manoeuvring the vessel, and the bridge team’s ineffective oversight of the docking.
Contributing was the placement of the third officer in a location without view of the bow to monitor the close approach to Pier 90.
Carnival’s navigation policy requires closed-loop communication and a process called ‘thinking aloud,’ meaning ‘sharing verbally a mental model of the current situation and future situations,’ which allows for greater situational awareness of the bridge team, while closed-loop communications ensure that when an order or request is made, the person executing it understands and acknowledges that order.
By repeating it back (acknowledging the order), the likelihood of miscommunications and misunderstandings is significantly reduced.
There was little audible evidence that the thinking-aloud concept was in practice during this accident sequence. While the pilot was issuing bow thruster and tug orders, the Master used the stern azipods with the intention to bring the ship closer to Pier 90, but did not communicate his actions to the pilot or bridge team.
The ship’s bridge team could have been more effectively engaged in the ship’s manoeuvring to the dock, the NTSB said. The Metro docking pilot was conning the vessel, and the Master was focusing on the starboard side, concerned about the ship being set onto the corner of Pier 88, due to an ebb current.
Although Carnival’s navigation policy and task assignments require monitoring of the person conning the vessel, cross-checking of the ship’s position, and predicting track and headway, there was no evidence that any bridge team member probed or alerted the Master and pilot of the headway of the vessel toward the corner of Pier 90.
In addition, there is no evidence that the bridge team discussed any minimum safe distances during the pre-arrival briefing or during the Master/pilot exchange with the docking pilot. Had there been established ‘minimum clearances to dangers’ for the manoeuvre required to be pre-discussed per company navigation policies, the bridge team members (including the officers monitoring distances from forward and aft) may have had better awareness of the threshold for when they should alert each other or stop the manoeuvre, re-assess, and try again.
Further, the third officer was designated to communicate distances and clearances from the port and starboard mooring platforms forward but was not positioned in a suitable location.
Carnival has since amended its procedures for this vessel to include positioning a crew member to report distances from the tip of the bow while manoeuvring into the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.