The National Transportation Safety Board says a cruise ship returning from a weeklong trip to Florida and the Bahamas last May approached a Baltimore pier too quickly and at too steep an angle before it struck a gangway and caused nearly $2.1 million in damage.
An accident report released Tuesday by the federal safety agency found that the Carnival Pride's staff captain, the second in command, erred in controlling the ship. It said the staff captain recognized the problem and attempted to assume manual control but was unable to do so.
No one was injured, but the gangway fell, crushing three vehicles on the pier. The gangway also was destroyed and the ship's hull was damaged, along with a mooring platform.
A harbor pilot from the Maryland Association of Pilots was aboard the vessel to guide it up the Chesapeake Bay and into the port of Baltimore but had transferred control of the cruise ship to the staff captain for the final approach and docking, according to the NTSB.
As the Pride neared the berth, the pilot told the staff captain that he needed to slow down, the NTSB said it its report. After the staff captain was unable to take manual control of the ship, the captain assumed control from the bridge, applying thrust away from the berth and slowing the ship, but it was too late to prevent the ship's bow from striking the berth and passenger walkway, the report found.
In its conclusion, the NTSB said the staff captain, while experienced with berthing, "misjudged" his control of the ship and could not explain why he was unable to assume manual control.
The cruise line "has been unable to determine a cause other than possible human error," the report said.
The NTSB also faulted the Carnival Pride's captain for "insufficient oversight during the maneuver."
Carnival Cruise Lines did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.