The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its findings after the United States Coast Guard completed its investigations of a Celebrity cruise ship accident that occurred in Ketchikan, Alaska. On June 3rd, 2016, the Celebrity Infinity which is operated by Royal Caribbean and is flagged conveniently in the country of Malta slammed into Berth 3 in Ketchikan, Alaska. Fortunately, no passengers or crew were injured and no pollution occurred to the ports fragile ecosystem. The ship, however, sustained a 9-inch-diameter hole on the forward port side, about 12 feet above the waterline. And the dock suffered extensive property damage requiring repairs that cost $1.15 million.
The NTSB found that the probable cause of the Celebrity Infinity’s collision was the crew’s three navigators failed to “properly plan, monitor, and execute” safe docking windy and choppy waters. All three individuals in control of the ship that day had at least a decade of experience in their respective roles.
Since 1967, the NTSB has been one of the primary means of holding cruise lines like Celebrity accountable for accidents caused by their own carelessness or negligence. In addition to investigating cruise ship accidents, the NTSB also looks at incidents involving airplanes, trains, highways, and pipelines.
At the core of any NTSB investigation is the NTSB “Go Team” which is designed to deploy skilled investigators as soon as possible to the scene of a major accident. Members of the Go Team, have the technical expertise and experience required to understand how and why a cruise ship accident like this one involving a Celebrity ship occurred and can address immediate safety problems. Perhaps, the most important aspect of an NTSB accident investigation is its safety recommendations - as to how future similar accidents can be avoided.
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