Sitnews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska - Opinions



Cruise Ship Wake, incident Ryndam
by Steven K. Shrum


May 16, 2005

Cruise Ship Industry: Dear Sir/Madam

What is your basic thought when you see a cruise ship coming, do you think what a nice bonus it going to be for our community, what a picturesque site, the people on board are enjoying our forested islands, or do you have a more realistic thought when you are a property owner in Ward Cove with a floating facility.
Your thought should be when you see one of the ships traveling eastbound, to quickly gather everything from your floating docks and make sure you do not have a skiff or airplane in the water tied to your facility.  You should as rapidly as possible put your airplane in the hangar or on your ramp because in 15 to 18 minutes from the time the Ship passes Channel Island you are going to get hit with a massive wake that will put your life at risk if you are standing on your floating dock.

 jpg Cruise Ship Wake

Cruise Ship Wake, incident Ryndam 05/13/05

I do not understand why every year we need to go through this exercise.  Every tourist season we start out with the same pilots operating the ships.  They are full aware what their wake does as I personally have contacted numerous pilots along with USCG Marine Safety who claimed to have talked to the pilots.
This year when I called the ship on channel 13, I inquired from the pilot if he was behind schedule?  His reply was that they were not behind at all.  After my inquiry as to why he did not slow down, the pilot said he was controlling the ship as directed by the pilots Association and was maintaining speed for the traffic.  This was a boldface lie as I witnessed this ship traveling, eastbound in the, vicinity of Channel Island with absolutely no traffic in sight.  There is absolutely no reason to think that one can get away with a statement like this.  It only causes greater animosity and exhibits the cockiness and ignorance of the pilot.
Please review the photograph enclosed which exhibits what we must put up with as your ships transverse Tongass Narrows.  This is an extremely dangerous phenomenon.  I was standing on the porch of my floating hangar and experienced water splash in my face 7 1/2 feet from the ocean surface.
It is my thought that obviously this pilot has never Owned any property and probably never will be the proprietor of  a floating facility that he must personally maintain and provide protection of life and limb.
There are numerous aircraft operating in the vicinity of Ward Cove that can very easily be upset taking off or landing.
I fear for my life if I, am caught with my back turned failing to see this wake being generated. I will no doubt be swept overboard!
Last year with the cooperation of numerous Cruise Ship Pilots (with a conscience) we enjoyed a relatively peaceful coexistence with these oceangoing cities.
Now that the city has extended its boundaries it would seem prudent that the Cruise Ship Industry recognize the hazards of their actions by encouraging their pilots to proceed through Tongass Narrows with excessive speeds causing dangerous situations while operating within the city limits.  It makes no difference whatsoever what their attitude is as to where they should slow down for their own personal gain.  There is absolutely no reason that these oceangoing cities do not slow down before they reach Guard Island.
 We have more boating every year with fishing charters targeting the Guard Island and Clover Pass areas.  These, areas are greatly affected by the massive wake that the ships generate.  It is inevitable that you are going to cause a serious injury.  There are elderly people aboard the small charter boats who cannot cope with the violence of your wake.
Your ship wake is catastrophically damaging, our pristine shoreline when proceeding through the narrow passages at maximum speeds.  Your schedules should not prohibit you from taking into consideration what you are doing to the environment that you are promoting.
Sincerely yours;

Steven K. Shrum
Ketchikan, AK - USA

Corresponding copies:

United States Coast Guard
City of Ketchikan Attorney
The Attorney General's Office
State of Alaska Governor
Pacific Log and Lumber
Environmental Protection Agency
Homeland Security
Boyer Towing



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.



Write a Letter -------Read Letters

E-mail the Editor

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska