The popular cruise blog Noticias de Cruceros reports that yesterday the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship almost collided with a small Italian fishing vessel, the Angelo II based in Civitavecchia, in waters near the port city of Latium on the western coast of Italy.
According to Noticias de Cruceros, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship was on a collision course with the Angela II, which had deployed its cables and fishing nets and was trawling for fish. The captain of the much smaller fishing boat radioed the Liberty of the Seas as it was bearing down on the boat, but the cruise ship neither responded nor altered course.
The captain of the Angela II had to cut all of its cables and nets and execute an emergency maneuver to avoid being run over by the Liberty of the Seas which passed 15 meters (less than 35 feet) away.
The captain notified the Italian Coast Guard which opened an administrative investigation, which could turn into a criminal investigation if the authorities conclude that the cruise ship ignored its radar and the cries from the fishing vessel via radio and refused to alter course.
The Angela II also alleges economic damages after its cables and nets sank.
The Noticias de Cruceros blog points out that giant cruise ships like the Liberty of the Seas are chock full of sophisticated technical equipment like radar, VHF, electronic charts, GPS, and many other systems. However the problem is that notwithstanding all of this technology, the bridge officers can make reckless decisions like intentionally sailing close to shore (a la' Costa Concordia) or ignoring cries for help (a la' Star Princess) or, in this case, not answering the radio or changing course to avoid a collision with a smaller fishing boat.
The blog concludes that while the cruise industry is considering improvements to its operating procedures, consideration must be given to re-evaluating the staffing of the bridge team and the training of the bridge officers to maintain a proper lookout.
July 8, 2012 Update:
First Update: An article about the alleged near-collision in an Italian newspaper can be read here.
I have not read any comments by passengers about the incident (like Cruisemates or Cruise Critic) and am curious whether anyone can confirm or deny the newspaper account? If you were a passenger or crew member on the cruise and have information to share, please leave a comment below. Anyone have photographs or video to share?
Second Update: The first comment below was sent by someone at Royal Caribbean offices in Miami. Read our article about this sneaky comment:
Third Update: Cruise Critic reports that Royal Caribbean confirms that "Liberty of the Seas was in close proximity to a small vessel on July 4th." However, a PR representative for Royal Caribbean told Cruise Critic "We are still working to gather all the facts, so I cannot confirm or deny the information,"