May 21, 2001
More Alaskan fireworks -- and it's only the third week of May -- though this one's not environmentally-related. On Saturday, 16 passengers on Norwegian Sky, which was sailing an Alaskan itinerary (Inside Passage) out of Seattle, were injured -- some treated for broken bones -- when the ship made a sudden maneuver or, as ship’s officers reported, felt “a large roll.” Glass and china slid off dining room tables and the gift shop was, according to published reports, a wasteland. The incident occurred at lunch time in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (which extends between Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island, British Columbia). The injured passengers were off-loaded at Sky’s scheduled port-of-call in Victoria before the ship returned to Seattle.
At this point the culprit appears to be the ship's autopilot, which failed and then, subsequently, caused the ship's rudders to veer hard to the left. A crew member disengaged the autopilot. The ship returned safely to Seattle where the cause of the mishap will be under investigation.