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Alaska Cruise Ship – New Mate, Wrong Turn

John Konrad
Total Views: 302
May 21, 2007

Sources close to gCaptain tell us the cruise ship that hit a rock near Juneau Alaska last week was being navigated by a young third mate on his first job out of California Maritime Academy and his second day on that job.

I would like to say that I had a similar experience my second day as a third mate. Heading south just out of San Francisco I was on my first watch when the radar began flashing with the multiple targets of a fishing fleet heading out to sea. One such target persisted and if it had not been for the fact we were a steam ship with a very loud whistle the captain of the fishing boat would have never woken from his slumber (in his cabin!) and diverted his course.

Why had the captain of the “Empress of the North” put the new mate on 8-12 watch? Why had he not been woken up for the turn? With such important cargo aboard why did the company not hire someone with more experience? My bet is the salary offered was not enough to attract a more experienced mate.

So what will happen? Hopefully the company will have to answer these tough questions in front of the NTSB. I’m equally hopefully the young mate will not be discouraged from continuing his career at sea because now he has something he was lacking last week…. experience.

For our previous posts on this story visit our Lifesaving Incident Section

Have more info? Email it to: tips (at)

John A. Konrad, Master MarinerJohn Konrad is a USCG licensed Master Mariner of Unlimited Tonnage currently working as Chief Mate aboard a 865′ ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Since graduating from SUNY Maritime College he has sailed in all 4 of the worlds oceans and reports from his ship via satellite.

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