ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Port authorities and shipping agents have come under fire from the captain of the Celebrity Eclipse after the ship almost hit bottom when docking in St John’s.
The incident on Thursday, November 22, 2012, led Captain Dimitrios Manetas to write a strong letter to the Antigua Port Authority, Antigua Pilot Association and ship agent Bennett Bryson & Co.
“Further to our meeting today (Thursday) upon docking, it is clear, by your own admission, that there had been lack of preparation and organisation between the Port Authority, pilots and agents to receive Celebrity Eclipse in port of St John’s,” wrote captain Manetas.
“It should be noted that due to this disorganisation, the vessel could have damaged the hull and compromised the safety of guests and crew onboard; such last minute changes result in delaying the ship docking and causing dissatisfaction amongst our guests,” he added.
Manetas said the incident occurred after it was noticed that there was only one available walkway on the Heritage Quay South Pier – where the ship had been advised to dock.
The ship captain wrote that the single walkway was insufficient to disembark guests and crew so a decision was taken to dock at Nevis Street Pier following discussions with the pilot.
Pilots are trained marines, often former ship captains, who are licensed by the various ports. Their primary role is to advise the ship’s officers regarding conditions in the port such as the tides, locations of sand bars, changes in the ships channel and more.
“When we were approaching Nevis Street Pier, the pilot informed us that there was enough water forward of the ship, and that we could proceed more ahead in order to fit both mid-ship gangways on the pier,” wrote captain Manetas.
“After docking was completed, sounding was performed around the vessel to verify under keel clearance, which was found to be 20 cm under the bulbous bow,” he added.
Attempts to contact Cruise Association President Nathan Dundas, Port Authority General Manager Agatha Goodwin, Bryson Shipping representative Patrick Ryan, Tourism Minister John Maginley – all who received an email copy of the letter – were unsuccessful over the weekend.
Celebrity Eclipse is part of the Celebrity Cruises line and falls in the Solstice Class with occupancy of 2,850.