Florida Keys

A cruise ship struck a Key West mooring. Now no ships can dock there for three months

A cruise ship caught up in a heavy sustained wind last week crashed into a mooring in Key West and did enough damage to leave the port of call at Mallory Square unusable for at least three months, city officials said.

The 691-foot-long Silversea Silver Spirit cruise ship was leaving Mallory Square at about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27 when the winds stopped it from turning around to get underway, City Manager Jim Scholl said.

No injuries were reported and the ship was not significantly damaged, Scholl said.

Asked to estimate the cost of repairs, Scholl said it could be a half-million dollars but he doesn’t have specific figures yet. A spokesman for Silversea could not be immediately reached for comment.

Scholl informed city commissioners Tuesday night that no ships can dock at Mallory until crews can replace a “mooring dolphin,” which is a large concrete block atop pilings that keeps the ships in a line — and away from the pier — when docking.

A video of the incident was recorded by Broadwave Live Cams

Key West has two other ports of call: the Outer Mole Pier at the Truman Waterfront Park and another at the Margaritaville Resort near Mallory Square.

“The ship wasn’t damaged that bad but that mooring dolphin is destroyed,” Scholl said. “It was able to get underway. The Coast Guard cleared them to go.”

The cruise line sent an insurance consultant to Key West the next day and again this week. On Monday, divers from an engineering firm hired by the city inspected the damage.

“They know they’re going to have to pay to do the repairs,” Scholl said.

One witness captured the ship damage on Facebook Live that night.

“It got part way out then drifted back in and hit one of the pilings and torqued it,” Liz Acar posted. “It also hit several other pilings as it slid the entire way back into the harbor.”

The Silver Spirit, built in 2009 and registered in the Bahamas, can hold 608 passengers.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.