(CNS): A cruise ship crashed into a pier Tuesday, cutting a hole in the side of the vessel, which was attempting to dock in the port of Coxan Hole in Roatan. The MSC Armonia was supposed to pull up alongside the pier but instead the vessel appears to have arrived at speed and then ploughed into the concrete pier, smashing up the dock and crushing the side of the ship. The 58,000 ton ship, which carries over 2,600 passengers, is scheduled to call on Cayman next week as part of its current two-week cruise in the region.
According to a statement released by the cruise line to US media, the crash is still under investigation.
“While manoeuvring alongside, for reasons that are currently still being duly investigated, the ship deviated from her course and grazed the end of the pier,” MSC stated. “As to the ship, the damage was minor. She has also since been cleared by Honduran Port State Control authorities to continue her journey as soon as the necessary repairs are concluded. At the present time, ship personnel and external experts are still at work to complete such repairs.”
The incident was caught on film by many onlookers and posted on numerous cruise-related websites and social media, going viral within minutes of the crash.
Local pundit Johann Moxam, who has been vocal about his opposition to building a cruise berthing facility here, said the incident served to highlight the need to reconsider the project.
“Before an expensive and environmental mistake is made that Cayman may not recover from, perhaps it be would wise for our leaders to consider all options and alternatives,” he said, noting that the marine environment is an integral part of the Cayman tourism product.
“Our leaders cannot afford to get this decision wrong from a long-term financial, socio-economics and environmental perspective. Think of current and future generations and the impact of getting it wrong. The people must hold all elected MLAs accountable.”
Urging people to voice their concerns and help them to strike the right balance, he said, “Strength in numbers is key. People must understand that the only thing elected officials fear is public pressure and losing political support that drives getting re-elected.”
Moxam is one of a number of people becoming more vocal in their opposition to the project, especially after the recent revelation that the controversial Chinese conglomerate, China Harbour Engineering Company, had been cleared to bid on what remains a far from transparent process about how this project will be financed and where the liability will lie, as well as who will take control of the port facility and for how long.
During the original consultation over the project, the people came down three to one against the development but this has been dismissed by the PPM-led administration, which continues to pursue the goal of berthing facilities regardless of public concerns.