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USCG: Anthem's list was about 18 degrees—not 45, as widely reported

Anthem of the Seas - degree of heeling during the storm has been grossly exaggerated in the media
Reports that Anthem of the Seas tilted 45 degrees during its storm-tossed 18 hours off Cape Hatteras Feb. 7-8 were grossly exaggerated.

The list was approximately 18 degrees, US Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe told Seatrade Cruise News. He added the precise figure wouldn't be available for some time. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Since 45 degrees is an extremely dramatic claim, Seatrade asked both Royal Caribbean and USCG how much the vessel listed. A cruise line spokeswoman said she did not have that information. The USCG public affairs officer looked into it and quickly came back with the 18-degree approximation.

The 45-degree figure has been widely reported and popped up in such august news outlets as The New York Times, with no attribution.

A Times reporter who was on the ship even claimed Anthem of the Seas 'remained in a tilted, roughly 45-degree position ... for a lengthy stretch of time.' He added that it seemed like an hour to him 'but it was probably really 20 to 25 minutes.'  

The reporter went on to note he's 'no nautical expert by any stretch of the imagination,' but said he's 'knowledgeable enough about ships to know that any sea vessel listing for an extended period of time is a ship that is in potential danger, especially a top-heavy ship like the Anthem of the Seas.' He went on to speculate Anthem could have capsized and sunk.

There has not been any public statement to that effect by officials truly knowledgeable about ships.

What is concerning was the news that the clutches had burned out on the port Azipod. However, Anthem of the Seas was authorized to return to its Bayonne, New Jersey homeport and not directed to put into any nearby port immediately, which would have been the case if there were imminent danger.

Royal Caribbean has faced harsh criticism for sailing into the path of a known storm. The company has apologized 'for exposing our guests and crew to the weather they faced, and for what they went through,' adding that 'what happened this week showed that we need to do better.'

The investigation, led by flag state Bahamas Maritime Authority with the participation of USCG and the US National Transportation Safety Board, is assessing what happened.

In a video Capt. Claus Andersen said Anthem of the Seas handled the storm 'very well. Yes, it was uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable, very scary for many, not only our guests but also for many of our crew as well.'

Andersen went on to express his confidence in Anthem of the Seas. 'I am comfortable with this ship. I can take this ship anywhere, at any time,' he stated.

There are valid concerns about judgment and decision-making in the incident, which the investigation will address.

As for the integrity of the ship itself, an independent maritime expert not associated with the line told Seatrade it is a 'robust ship, built to survive.' He added that doesn't imply its limits ought to be tested.