Today I was running back home from work and did not have much time to stop, with for only pixel-gatherer, my Samsung phone. Coming up on the Air, Sea and Space museum hosted on the Hudson River aboard the USS Intrepid retired aircraft carrier, I could see the upper decks of the Carnival Splendor towering far above the carrier, a couple of piers to the north. As I ran closer, I heard her horn sound three short blasts, signal for coming astern. It was 5 PM, the enormous ship was sailing towards the Caribbean.

In the few minutes it took me to get closer, the Goliath had already left her berth and was maneuvering back into the Hudson, a tug pushing her stern away from the dock and upstream. While a swift breeze was blowing from the north, the tide was rising and would be high three hours later. At that location, the Hudson remains completely tidal and I assume this was causing a decent upriver current, probably stronger than the southerly wind influence.

Carnival Splendor missing the pier by a few feet – keep in mind she has drifted from the left-side dock

In any case, I had to stop and stare. I would imagine that a captain would want his ship to stay in the middle of a berth when backing up – away from docks and anything more solid than his hull. But this one let his vessel drift way to the north, away from his departure dock and towards the opposite side of the berth. I don’t know if the tug was still pushing as she was hidden from view at that point.

The Splendor drifted across the basin while moving slowly astern, came within spitting distance of the corner of the opposite dock, maybe 15 or 20 feet, and at that time my camera was out and I thought the captain would ding his boat and be fired. To put things in perspective, the Splendor features thirteen decks, carries up to four thousand people, is close to a thousand feet in length, and has a gross tonnage of 113,300 tons. And she is not even that impressive according to modern standards. But she doesn’t exactly stop on a dime. The inertia of that thing is insane.

It was very close. So close I believe it had to be way too close for comfort. Was someone sleeping at the wheel?