Ketchikan dock unusable after cruise ship crash

KETCHIKAN — A dock in Ketchikan is out of commission for the foreseeable future after a cruise ship crashed into it.

City of Ketchikan Port and Harbors Director Steve Corporon told the Ketchikan Daily News that Berth 3 was damaged Friday when a Celebrity Cruises ship struck the dock.

The Celebrity Infinity, a 965-foot, 91,000-ton ship that can hold 2,170 passengers, scraped along part of the berth around 2 p.m. Friday, causing one of the gangways to break off and puncture the ship’s hull. Witnesses said there were loud crashes, with the ripping and shearing of metal clearly audible.

“The angle of his bow was wrong,” said Jamison Mork, who was on a boat docked next to Berth 3 when the Infinity collided with the structure. “He was coming in, pointing at the pier too strongly. … You could hear his bow thruster going to try and push his bow away, but the wind was pushing him into the pier.”

No one was injured and no pollution was reported as a result of the damage.

Officials with Celebrity Cruises have not responded to requests for comment.

The ship is being repaired and was expected to leave Ketchikan and return to Vancouver, Canada.

Ketchikan Assistant City Manager Dave Martin said it is unclear how long the berth will be closed because it is too early to say how badly the dock is damaged.

“When (things) first happened, they really looked bad, and I’m not saying it looks good,” Martin said. “But I think that it’s too early on to make that call. We simply don’t know.”

Until the dock is repaired, the port will have to go back to its pre-2007 operations, when there were only two berths, Corporon said.

“The simple answer is that we’re going to have to have them anchor out and tender (passengers) in,” Corporon said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it’s investigating, and Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan were called to the scene after the crash.

“The Coast Guard is grateful no one was injured as a result of this accident,” said Lt. Dianna Robinson, command duty officer at Sector Juneau. “Our personnel are working to determine the cause of this accident and will work with local partners to ensure the continued safety of those using the cruise ship docks.”

Weather on scene was reported to be gusting at 45-miles per hour.

More information on the extent of the damage to Berth 3 is expected next week.

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