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Iceland Releases Report on Norwegian Prima Near-Miss Grounding

Submitted by kgnadmin on

The Iceland Transportation Accident Investigation Committee released a report on last year's near-miss grounding involving the 140,000-ton cruise ship Norwegian Prima at the port of Reykjavík. According to the report, the Norwegian Prima drifted outside the navigable channel and came within 10 meters of rocks after the vessel experienced winds in excess of 50 knots.

On May 26, 2023, the Norwegian Prima departed Reykjavík, Iceland. The vessel maneuvered off the berth and out of the harbor astern, to turn outside the breakwater with a tug’s assistance. When the turn was almost complete, the wind speed increased significantly. With wind in excess of 50 knots on the port beam, the vessel could not regain its planned track—it drifted outside the navigable channel, overran a buoy, and came within 10 meters of rocks with a charted depth of 0.4 meters. After then passing within 25 meters of a shoal with a drying height, the vessel managed to regain the planned track and depart the harbor without further incident.

According to the report, the pilot recommended that the captain delay departure. The captain decided to stick to the schedule, despite the adverse weather and against the pilot's recommendation. The ship had gone off course in the storm, and the captain had apparently underestimated the situation. The crew of the tugboat Magni did everything in their power to prevent a major accident. The captain, who was sailing into Reykjavík harbor for the first time, tried to counter steer with the ship's propellers, but that wasn't enough. In the video available to the investigative committee, the tugboat tries at full steam to push the ship back on course into the channel.

There were no injuries or pollution. The Norwegian Prima suffered no damage as a result of overrunning the buoy, but the tug suffered damage due to prolonged pushing while it helped the vessel avoid grounding.
The marine incident was not reported to coastal or flag state authorities at the time. Iceland's Safety Investigation Authority opened an inquiry when it became aware of the incident and asked The Bahamas to join its marine safety investigation shortly afterward. Iceland was the Lead Maritime Investigating State and The Bahamas was the Substantially Interested State.

The master was a 37-year-old Panamanian who had sailed with Norwegian Cruise Lines for 14 years. He had worked on the Norwegian Prima during its construction and was promoted to master for its commissioning in 2022. The pilot was a 55-year-old Icelander who had been a captain on commercial vessels for 8 years. He had sailed as a deck officer and chief mate for numerous years before that. He had been a pilot for six and a half years and had never had any mishap as a pilot.

The report contains recommendations on how such incidents can be prevented. Among other things, there is a recommendation for the shipping company to evaluate all information to supplement its own risk assessment. It is also recommended that the Port of Faxaflói update its workflows to ensure good communication between tugs and pilots. This communication must be in English and understandable to everyone. The government is being asked to extend the powers of pilots so that they can refuse ships to leave under certain circumstances.