Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom

MS Armonia at the scene of the incident. (Photo by Ana Svoboda)

Roatan has its Biggest Maritime Accident to Date

Workers at the Port of Roatan cruise ship dock got the fright of their lives when at 9 am on April 12, the 244 meter long, 59,000 ton MSC Armonia crashed into the dock at 6.7 knots. The videos of the ship dragging her two anchors into the pier and crushing one of the dolphin moorings went viral. The video received almost two million views on YouTube and a local band wrote a song about it.

The ship ended up with a gaping hole and the 205 meter long dock is now 170 meters. Two mooring dolphins and a walkway were destroyed.

According to Elmer Cruz, owner of the Agencia Naviera del Caribe, representing cruise ships arriving in Roatan, several Roatan hotels and Americans on the island contacted Anacaribe with offers to host passengers injured in the collision. But, since no injuries were reported and MSC Armonia has more cabins than Roatan has hotel rooms, the offer was not taken.

Within hours an investigation was initiated, gathering representatives from the Honduran Ports Authority, Port of Roatan, insurance agencies, the ships agent, and Carlo Aiello, the Italian captain of the MSC Armonia. Also within hours, the crew of the cruise ship began to repair the gaping hole in the ship’s hull. They purchased some repair supplies from Serrano’s Hardware and welded steel plates onto the hull. 17 hours after the accident, at 2:30 am, they were on their way to Belize.

Since we have been working in 1997 it’s the first time that a boat has hit a dock

While Roatan got plenty of play on FOX and CNN, two cruise ships: Liberty of the Seas and Getaway, cancelled their visit to Roatan. “They didn’t know the damage to the pier, so they decided just to play it safe,” said Cruz. “Since we have been working in 1997 it’s the first time that a boat has hit a dock,” said Cruz.

The conclusion from the investigation is pending, but that hasn’t stopped a local band from Roatan, ‘Jhaytea and Don Mark,’ from rendering their own verdict in the form of new song lyrics: “They say the captain was drinking Jack Daniels. (…) Drinking Ice and Tatascan.” Human error is more likely the culprit.

Nic Bach, Coordinator of Marine Infrastructure at Roatan Marine Park, dived the site of the incident the fallowing day looking for damage to coral that still surrounds the port of Roatan, but has seen no damage done by the Armonia. “Years of cruise ships there smothered the coral. Most of the coral in the vicinity of the cruise ship dock is already gone,” said Bach.

Kester Bodden, Deputy Director Port of Roatan, the construction on the second pier at the Port of Roatan is due to begin in September and last for 18 months. The repairs to the damaged existing dock are likely to coincide.

MSC Armonia is a cruise ship that was built in 2001 for the now defunct Festival Cruises as MS European Vision. It is based in Havana, Cuba and offers a week long cruises in Western Caribbean. Captain Carlo Aiello was relieved of his duties upon returning to Havana and was transferred to MSC Opera to Master position.

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