Coast Guard Gives Empress of the North Approval to Resume Operations

 JUNEAU, Alaska – The 299-foot cruise ship Empress of the North is scheduled to resume operations in Southeast Alaska on July 7, 2007. The vessel, which can carry up to 237 passengers and 90 crewmembers, has been out of service since striking the bottom on the shoals of Rocky Island at the intersection of Lynn Canal and Icy Strait on May 14, 2007.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Coast Guard continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and the rescue of the passengers and crew. The NTSB recently issued an urgent safety recommendation concerning lifesaving equipment. This morning, the Empress of the North successfully completed a thorough Coast Guard re-inspection, which included all lifesaving equipment, life rafts, and inflatable evacuation slides.

As a result of the casualty, the vessel suffered damage to its hull and to one of its two main propulsion systems, commonly referred to as Z-drives. The hull has been completely repaired. One of the two Z-drive systems remains inoperable pending parts and further repairs. The Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping have determined that the remaining propulsion systems provide ample ability to safely navigate and steer the vessel.

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