Most groundings are caused by human error

Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2007

In the last few years, with the dramatic increase in cruise ships of every size, grounding incidents have increased.

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Not long ago, a cruise ship hit an "uncharted" rock in Dundas Bay. I must have an updated version because it showed up on my chart.

Don't get me wrong, any number of bad things can happen out there, but with modern navigational equipment, knowing where you are shouldn't be a huge problem.

I propose that a person with local knowledge take the helm when there's a chance of hitting anything solid. A kid from Hoonah that's been running Icy Straits his whole life has a much keener insight as to the hazards than anyone who tours the Inside Passage for a couple months a year. It may be a thrill to closely watch sea lions, but you have to stop before you hit a rock.

The bottom line is that most accidents are caused by human error. There is no substitute for local knowledge, and a Coast Guard license is no guarantee of competence. Let's come up with some way to keep fuel inside their tanks and ships on top of the water.

Andy Massey

Juneau



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