Cruise Ship Collides With Moored Sailboats in Boston Harbor

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Late last week, on Thursday morning, June 21 at roughly 11AM EST, a Boston Harbor cruise ship carrying 328 passengers aboard — Odyssey — collided with six moored sailboats while leaving its berth near Rowe’s Wharf pier. Passengers consisted primarily of eighth-grade students and their teachers who were on a pre-graduation trip.

According to reports, Odyssey lost power while leaving the pier, which resulted in a loss of throttle and a slow drift backwards into the moored sailboats. The vessel thereafter regained power and the Captain was able to steer Odyssey away and prevent further damage. Coast Guard authorities responded quickly and sent a crew to investigate the accident and determine the condition of all passengers and others near the accident site.

As of now, no injuries have been reported, and the property damage caused to the sailboats has primarily been cosmetic in nature. We are pleased to learn that — despite the fact that Odyssey lost power and drifted into other vessels — all parties involved are safe.

We are also encouraged to hear that Vernon Fritch, a man who was aboard one of the moored sailboats at the time of the accident, managed to avoid injury by jumping between the vessels and escaping the path of the drifting Odyssey. Had Vernon — or any passengers aboard the cruise ship — suffered injuries, they would likely have an actionable claim against the cruise line.

Vessels Must Be Adequately Staffed and Maintained in a Safe Condition

Though the damage was limited in the present case, Odyssey Boston launched its own investigation into the cause of the accident and determined that the loss of power that lead to engine failure was due to a faulty part. This gives us pause — had there been an injury or serious property damage, perhaps to a passenger in one of the moored sailboats, then the potential liability of the cruise line seems clear.

Cruise ship operators are required to maintain their vessels in reasonably safe condition so that passengers are not exposed to a heightened risk of injury. In the present case, the cruise line should have discovered the faulty part and corrected it before launching from the pier. Crew must also be adequately trained to inspect and discover such faults so as to prevent the occurrence of such incidents. Though the collision here was minor, it is not unlikely that Odyssey could have experienced engine failure while moving at a higher speed and been involved in a serious grounding accident at the pier or at one of the many recreational islands dotting Boston Harbor.

Our Experienced Maritime Lawyers Can Assist You

If you have been injured due to a maritime collision, whether you were a passenger (or crewman) on a cruise ship, or in a peripheral vessel that was affected by the accident, such as the sailboats in the present case, then you may be entitled to sue for damages. Litigating a claim against a cruise line can be complicated by a number of different factors, however, not the least of which is the substantial resources that cruise lines have at their disposal.

Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., our maritime lawyers have over a century of combined experience providing representation to the injured in a variety of contexts, including litigation against cruise lines. Though we provide a range of legal services, our primary focus is on maritime and admiralty cases, and as such, we are well-positioned to navigate the challenges typical of such litigation.

While our office is located in Florida, our attorneys have handled numerous cases in state and federal courts throughout the country. We also have extensive experience handling cases that arise out of incidents abroad, and are capable of successfully litigating claims in courtrooms worldwide.

Interested in learning more about your claims, and how best to proceed with the process of litigation? We encourage you to contact one of our experienced maritime lawyers for further guidance.