Regarding the forgoing article quoting the Marine pilot's arguments, some of which gives me pause. Here is a response by a 30 year seasoned ship Master and a lot of the experience in Alaska waters to these questions: "Thï»¿e captain isn’t in charge of navigating in SE Alaska. The ï»¿pilot is."
"Sorry, but you are incorrect. While SE Alaska waters are compulsory pilotage waters and the pilot normally has conduct (con) of the vessel, the Master remains in command and the Deck Officer in charge of the watch is responsible to the Master for the safe navigation, with advice from the pilot. The correct term we used is courses and speeds to Master's orders & pilot's advice."
"When the Captain or Deck Officersï»¿, agree with the pilot's orders they are followed without question. When they don't agree, the pilot is challenged and if unable to justify their intended action, the Captain and/or Deck Officer may take any action they believe is required to ensure the safe conduct of the vessel. As a Deck Officer in Alaska, I countered a pilot's orders on a couple of occasions. Mostly with respect to the amount of helm they requested."
"This is consistent with any compulsory pilotage area I have worked, except the Panama Canal, where the pilots assume complete responsibility for the navigation. It is also noted in the Alaska Marine Pilot Statutes & Regulations."
Some say the large stern thrusters, like the Royal has, only work at slow speeds, below 4 knots, yet the Southeast Marine pilots seem to indicate the opposite, that the Royal is only responsive at higher speeds. Here again, the same retired Master, with respect to propulsion and thrusters:
"Prior to scheduling the ship in Alaska, I would be very surprised if Princess has not tested the ship with their Bridge Teams at their simulator complex in Almere, just outside Amsterdam. They should have determined a maximum wind speed that the vessel can be safely maneuvered. The Captains will be well aware of any limitations and will have performed the navigation/dockings many times in the simulator. The pilots have conducted simulations, but how accurate was their ship modeling and which simulator did they use - was it generic controls or was it a full mission simulator based on that Bridge design."
"However, if the ship does have handling challenges, it isn't because she doesn't have Azipods, it will because Princess went cheap installing FPP, non-high lift rudders, insufficient HP, insufficient thrusters (normally effective below about 4 kts), etc."
"Personallyï»¿, having docked large windage/low draft passenger vessels multiple times a day for almost 30 years, my preference for docking in Ketchikan and similar areas is quick response twin controllable pitch props, twin high-lift rudders that can be controlled individually and multiple bow-thrusters.. With sufficient HP to handle vessel in 35 to 40 kt beam wind at maneuvering speeds."