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Cruise Ship Crown Princess Tilt Blamed on 'Human Error'

Jul 25, 2006 | Princess Cruise Lines has blamed "human error" for last week's unexpected heavy roll of the cruise ship Crown Princess, which resulted in injuries to 240 passengers and brought a terrifying end to the ship's Caribbean cruise.

"We can confirm that the incident was due to human error and the appropriate personnel changes have been made," a Princess Cruise Lines statement said.

While Princess declined to go into any additional detail, a spokesperson confirmed that the ship's captain, who was not on the bridge when the incident occurs, "remains in command."

The ship is back in service, sailing on Nov. 22nd with 2,700 passengers on a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean.

The statement appeared to at least in part confirm an Orlando television station's report that when the ship's automatic pilot started making a left turn, an officer on the bridge thought the ship was turning too sharply and "panicked," taking the ship out of automatic pilot.

The junior officer then accidentally kept the ship in an even sharper turn, according to television station WESH, causing an estimated 15 to 18 degree list that emptied swimming poools, overturned large slot machines and exercise machines in the spa, and sent passengers tumbling.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which along with the Coast Guard and a British agency are investigating the incident, earlier said that a complete investigation on the Crown Princess cruise ship incident could take as long as 12 to 18 months to complete.

"We try to figure out what happened and make recommendations on how to prevent it from happening again," said Keith Holloway, public affairs officer for the NTSB.

"We can appreciate there may be concern as to the cause of this incident, and questions about whether it could happen again," Princess said in an open letter to passengers posted on its website.

"As you may be aware, there is an investigation into the incident being carried out by the U.S. authorities which has not yet been fully completed. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment in any detail before that investigation is complete and the results published.

"We want to unequivocally emphasize that we would never operate an unsafe ship, nor would the U.S. Coast Guard allow a ship to sail that had any safety issues.

"We want to assure passengers who may be booked on an upcoming sailing, or those who may be thinking about traveling with Princess, that the highest priority for our company is the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew," Princess added.

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