Chances are good that you’ve seen the footage of the MSC Opera hitting a pier in Venice. (If not, you can see it below). Did the news sound strangely familiar to you? If so, you’re not alone.
While the footage is dramatic and it made headlines around the world, another similar incident also occurred a little more than a year ago when MSC Armonia struck a pier in Roatan, Honduras. Plus, MSC had a previous run-in in Buenos Aires dock only a few months ago.
What’s going on with these three incidents – all from the same cruise line – that seem similar to one another? Is it just a coincidence or could there be some bigger issue under the surface?
Here are the details of each crash…
MSC Opera | June 2019 | Venice, Italy
This most recent accident occurred as two tugboats guided the MSC Opera into Venice. The tugboats tried, but were unable to prevent MSC Opera from ramming into the moored riverboat. As reported by CBS News, Davide Calderan, president of a tugboat association in Venice said “The two tugboats tried to stop the giant and then a tow cable broke, cut by the collision with the river boat.”
The impact dislodged the riverboat from the pier, leaving at least two passengers caught on the walkway as they tried to disembark the small vessel. Five people were injured in the incident in the Giudecca Canal. Venice authorities are investigating the ship’s commander and pilot, as well as employees of the dock and the tugboat association, according to reports.
Following the accident, MSC stated that Opera “experienced a technical issue” and that “investigations to understand the exact causes of the events are currently in progress.”
MSC Orchestra | February 2019 | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Before the MSC Opera, there was another collision involving docked ships. This time the MSC Orchestra hit the MSC Poesia as the Poesia was docked in Buenos Aires.
According to a statement given to Express.co.uk:
“On 20 February 2019 at 22:11:00 local time, MSC Orchestra undocked to leave the Port of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Due to reasons we are still investigating, the ship deviated from its course while maneuvering out of the port and lightly grazed the forward part of MSC Poesia, which was docked alongside.
“While this may have been noticed by some passengers, there was never any risk for guests or crew on board, and there was no impact for the environment.”
Following the accident, although minor, the Orchestra had to adjust its itinerary on the rest of the cruise.
MSC Armonia | April 2018 | Roatan, Honduras
MSC Armonia crashed into the dock, then ran aground on the beach at Port Coxen Hole on the island of Roatán, Honduras just over one year ago. No one received any injuries in the incident, and the ship sustained only minor damage.
Fox News reported that “Crew members attempted to slow the ship upon realizing it was traveling too fast into port, according to NPR, reportedly by throwing two anchors overboard just before the ship hit the dock . . . while the anchors may have been deployed too late to slow the vessel’s entry into port.”
At the time, MSC released a statement that “While maneuvering alongside, for reasons that are currently still being duly investigated, the ship deviated from her course and grazed the end of the pier.”
Following the accident, some ships had to be re-routed after the dock was damaged in Roatan.
Is Something Wrong?
Given the similarity of these three accidents involving MSC vessels, it begs the question if this is more than coincidence. There’s no doubt that maneuvering large vessels like these in crowded ports is difficult. And to be fair, other cruise lines have incidents as well. Still, having three such mishaps in such a short time frame is unusual.
Is there a mechanical issue shared between these (and perhaps other) MSC ships that’s to blame for the issues? Or perhaps there is a need for more or better training of the cruise line’s navigation crew or port pilots?
No matter the reason, no passenger – or cruise line – wants to see any more incidents like these going forward.