The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that a second officer on the Crown Princess caused the ship to list by steering the wrong way.

The NTSB released a report late Jan. 10 that said that the probable cause of the accident on the Princess Cruises' vessel in July 2006 was a second officer's "incorrect wheel commands, executed first to counter an unanticipated high rate of turn and then to counter the vessel's heeling."

The accident resulted in 14 serious and 284 minor injuries to passengers and crew members, the NTSB said.

In a statement, Princess said, "This isolated incident was the unfortunate result of human error, and we again apologize to all our passengers and crew who were injured or frightened by the unexpected listing of the ship."

The NTSB also blamed the ship's captain and staff captain for inappropriate inputs to the vessel's navigation system, a failure to stabilize the vessel before leaving the ship's bridge and inadequate training of its crew members in the use of the navigation systems.

"We see from this accident the importance of having adequate training," said NTSB member Mark Rosenker. "Had the crew been better trained in the equipment they were using, this accident may not have occurred, and implementing our recommendations is one way to help ensure this."

Princess also said that since the incident, it has introduced many measures designed to keep a similar situation from occurring, including enhanced training of its deck officers with an emphasis on its navigation systems.

The Crown Princess had been in service for about a month when it departed Port Canaveral, Florida, for Brooklyn, New York, the last stop on a 10-day roundtrip voyage to the Caribbean. About an hour after departing, the NTSB said, the vessel's automatic navigation system caused the ship's heading to go off of its intended course.

Alarmed by what he perceived as a high rate of turn, the second officer attempted to correct the ship's direction, and his steering resulted in the ship heeling to a maximum angle of about 24 degrees to starboard, the NTSB said, causing people to be thrown about or struck by unsecured objects.

The officer took manual control of the steering, but "Rather than remedying the problem, the second officer's actions aggravated the situation, resulting in a very large angle of heel," the report said, by turning the wheel the wrong way. "The captain quickly returned to the bridge and brought the vessel under control by centering the rudder and reducing speed."

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].


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