Cruise Ship Tears Hull On Rock Off Alaska

An 806-foot cruise ship struck a rock early Friday and ripped two long, narrow gashes in its hull. All aboard were safe and, while the ship briefly took on water, it was not in danger of sinking.

Princess Tours of Seattle canceled the rest of the cruise after the Star Princess struck Poundstone Rock at 1:50 a.m. as it sailed from Skagway to Juneau.

“Everybody on board is disappointed because the cruise was cut short, but they’re safe and that’s what’s important,” said Princess spokesman Kirby Day.

The collision tore two 8-inch-wide cracks in the starboard side of the hull, one 40 feet long, the other 100 feet long. The damage forced the ship to drop anchor about a mile out in Auke Bay, 14 miles north of Juneau.

The ship had 1,550 passengers aboard and the cruise line was preparing to ferry them, 60 at a time, to shore via motorboats so they could be taken home by bus and airplane. About 600 crew members also were aboard.

“We may wind up using the boat as a hotel if we don’t get everyone out (Friday),” Day said.

The cruise began Monday in Seward and was to end Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Coast Guard investigators administered alcohol and drug tests to the bridge crew - a standard procedure, Coast Guard spokesman Randy Midgett said.

Coast Guard divers were inspecting the vessel’s hull to determine the extent of damage. The ship’s fuel tanks were not punctured, but absorbent booms were being brought in because a mile-long sheen of unknown origin was seen in the area, Midgett said.

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