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U.S. Coast Guard investigating San Francisco cruise ship crash

A worker walks by damage to the side of the stern of the Ruby Princess cruise ship at Pier 27, in San Francisco, on Thursday, July 6, 2023. A Princess Cruises ship struck the dock at Pier 27 on Thursday morning. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard

The Princess Cruises ship that collided with a dock at San Francisco's Pier 27 Thursday morning is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

“We have members of our investigations and inspections teams at the scene looking at the damage,” Lt. Junior Grade Benjamin Wathen said. “We’re trying to get a road map of what we’re dealing with here.”

The ship’s “port quarter,” which stretches from the front left side toward the back, was damaged in the early morning incident, Wathen said.

Princess Cruises and Port of San Francisco officials were also assessing damage after the 951-foot cruise ship, called the Ruby Princess, tore its hull against a pier.

Damage to the side of the stern of Ruby Princess cruise ship at Pier 27, in San Francisco, on Thursday, July 6, 2023. A Princess Cruises ship struck the dock at Pier 27 on Thursday morning. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard

A Princess Cruises spokesperson said in a statement that the ship made "unexpected contact" with the Pier 27 dock near Lombard Street and the Embarcadero at 6:05 a.m.

No passengers were hurt, and all of the 3,328 passengers and 1,159 crew members have been removed from the ship without incident, the spokesperson said.

The ship was returning to San Francisco after leaving the city on a 10-day round-trip cruise to Alaska. A new round of passengers boarded the ship around 11:30 a.m. for another Alaskan trip scheduled to depart at 4 p.m., but a specific time of departure was “still being determined," the statement said. 

A view of the Ruby Princess cruise ship at Pier 27, in San Francisco, on Thursday, July 6, 2023. A Princess Cruises ship struck the dock at Pier 27 on Thursday morning. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Bar Pilots said a pilot was involved in the crash. 

“We are cooperating with all necessary agencies in looking into this matter and cannot comment further,” the spokesperson said.

The Port of San Francisco did not respond to an interview request by press time.A National Weather Service forecast for San Francisco coastal waters had called for mixed seas of 2 to 3 feet in deep-water channels and 4 to 5 feet at the bar, with a maximum ebb current of 3.7 knots at 6:37 a.m.

Kimberly and Henry Varela—first-time cruisegoers who were waiting to board the ship for their trip to Alaska—heard the details about the incident through media gathering at the scene.

“I’m not worried about it too much,” Henry said. “It’s a big ship. If it wasn’t safe to go on they wouldn’t be letting us get onboard.”

The U.S. Coast Guard in the Port of Oakland's Outer Harbor. The Princess Cruises ship that collided with a dock at San Francisco's Pier 27 Thursday morning is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard. | Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Richard Varay—who was boarding the Ruby Princess with his wife and son—said the damage troubled him, but he was not “overly concerned.”

“It didn’t look like a big integrity breach. It looked more like a fender bender,” Varay said. “We’ve waited over a year for this. It’s a first for us.”

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com