Investigators Shed Some Light on Empress Accident

May 17, 2007

Majestic America Line Cancels Three Sailings

Majestic America Assesses Empress Damage

Update: Empress of the North Runs Aground in Alaska

Federal investigators told the Seattle Times that crewmembers of Empress of the North hit a rock in southeast Alaska and then drifted about two miles to Hanus Reef -- which is where the crew radioed the Coast Guard, and where passengers were evacuated.

Crewmembers told investigators that they were attempting to correct course when the bottom of the ship struck the rock at approximately 1:30 a.m. local time on Monday. Similarly, the captain of the Sea Diamond (the Greek cruise ship that struck a reef off the coast of Santorini last month and subsequently sank) said that accident occurred while trying to correct the ship's course after being swept by a current.

The third mate (who was navigating) and the helmsman (who was steering) were the only staffers on the bridge at the time of Empress of the North's grounding, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board told the Seattle Times.

--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor