Marine Accident Report

Heeling Accident on M/V Crown Princess
Atlantic Ocean Off Port Canaveral, Florida
July 18, 2006

NTSB Number MAR-08/01
NTIS Number PB2008-916401

Executive Summary:

On July 18, 2006, the cruise ship Crown Princess, which had been in service about a month, departed Port Canaveral, Florida, for Brooklyn, New York, its last port on a 10‑day round-trip voyage to the Caribbean. Slightly more than an hour after departing, while on a heading to intersect its track to Brooklyn, the vessel’s automatic steering system began a turn to port. In an effort to counter the effects of a perceived high rate of turn, the second officer, the senior watch officer on the bridge, disengaged the automatic steering mode of the vessel’s integrated navigation system and took manual control of the steering. The second officer turned the wheel first to port and then from port to starboard several times, eventually causing the vessel to heel at a maximum angle of about 24° to starboard. The heeling caused people to be thrown about or struck by unsecured objects, resulting in 14 serious and 284 minor injuries to passengers and crewmembers. The vessel incurred no damage to its structure but sustained considerable damage to unsecured interior components and to cabinets and their contents.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Crown Princess accident was the second officer’s incorrect wheel commands, executed first to counter an unanticipated high rate of turn and then to counter the vessel’s heeling. Contributing to the cause of the accident were the captain’s and staff captain’s inappropriate inputs to the vessel’s integrated navigation system while the vessel was traveling at high speed in relatively shallow water, their failure to stabilize the vessel’s heading fluctuations before leaving the bridge, and the inadequate training of crewmembers in the use of integrated navigation systems.

The Safety Board’s investigation of the accident identified the following safety issues:

As a result of its investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, to the Cruise Lines International Association, and to SAM Electronics and Sperry Marine (manufacturers of integrated navigation systems).