EXCLUSIVE: Marine superintendent describes repairing hole on Ruby Princess cruise ship

Melanie Woodrow Image
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Marine superintendent describes repairing Ruby Princess
Marine superintendent talks about repairing the hole on Ruby Princess cruise ship caused during docking at San Francisco's Pier 27 last week.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With repairs complete, the Ruby Princess is underway to Alaska after it hit Pier 27 in San Francisco while docking last Thursday morning. ABC7 News I-Team Reporter Melanie Woodrow got an exclusive look at the work completed to fix the ship and interviewed the Marine superintendent overseeing the repairs.

As the Carnival Miracle departed Pier 27 Monday afternoon, Oceanwide Repair Marine Superintendent Ryan Wilson was reflecting on the miracle his crew was a part of in recent days.

"I knew I had thousands of people that were relying on me to get this job done immediately and I had to rely on my men to get the job done," said Wilson.

RELATED: Ruby Princess leaves SF for Alaska 4 days after crash at Pier 27, nearly 600 passengers fewer

While docking last Thursday, The Ruby Princess hit Pier 27 creating a hole in the ship.

"It definitely took me by surprise I was working a job on the other side of the bay when I got the call that a cruise ship had hit the pier," Wilson explained.

"I knew that time was of the essence," he continued.

Wilson says he flew Oceanwide Repairs' best welders up from Los Angeles.

Upon seeing the hole --

"It's about two feet by two feet and it's just a giant puncture in the side shell. My first reaction was, I want to know where is it in reference to the water line. Thankfully, this was about 10 feet above that water line and it happened to be in a tank called a healing tank that was designed to have water pumped in and out of it," said Wilson.

VIDEO: 'Go with the flow': Ruby Princess passengers anxious to leave as ship repairs continue

The waiting game continues this weekend for passengers on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship, which remains docked in San Francisco.

Good news and momentary relief. Soon, Wilson realized the crew would be repairing the ship from inside a giant walk-in fish freezer.

"Everything was filled to the brim with frozen fish ready to leave for this giant cruise," said Wilson.

The repairs taking place on the other side of a 25-inch diameter man hole - a tight squeeze. Wilson had to cut the material small enough to get through the manhole then reconstruct them on the other side. The crew worked around the clock to isolate the damage creating a water tight barrier.

"Even if it were to fill with water the ship would be completely safe sailing all the way to Canada and back," said Wilson.

To allay any passengers concerns about a visible hole in the ship, the team fixed a stainless steel piece of sheet metal over the hole.

VIDEO: Investigation into bar pilot after cruise ship slams into SF pier

We're learning more about the bar pilot of Ruby Princess after the cruise ship hit Pier 27 in San Francisco while docking Thursday morning.

"This is the first one for me where it was this close to the water line so I could see why the Coast Guard had denied it sailing while it was being repaired. The fact that everything was able to be coordinated so efficiently and we were able to get the right welders at the right time was incredible. I wasn't surprised that we passed Coast Guard inspection the first time, I mean these guys are the best," Wilson explained.

He estimates the repairs cost close to a quarter of a million dollars and shared a recorded message from the Captain thanking them.

"We are out and and we're doing well and on behalf of myself, Princess Cruises and all the team aboard, we want to thank you for your extreme professionalism and dedication to make this happen," says the Captain in the message.

"I knew man I wanted to do whatever I can to make these guys happy," said Wilson.

The cause of the collision is under investigation. Wilson says it's not an easy bay to navigate and spoke highly of the Bar Pilots who are trained to do it.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live