Dennis Wright's Blog

The Wreck of the Santa Leonora

Posted in Travel by Dennis Wright on March 12, 2012

The cruise itinerary took us past the wreck of the Santa Leonora. It was very misty so I was quite pleased to get a usable photo.

There is a story to the demise of the Santa Leonora which was related by the captain over the PA as we passed the wreck. His story matches the explanation in the Kauer’s Korner blog, reproduced below:

Around 4:00pm we approach Isla Shoalon where the Santa Leonora was shipwrecked in 1964.

The ship was on her maiden voyage carrying Chilean pilots northwards through the area. She was a passenger ship of around 18,000 tons. At that time, aboard the bridge, helm orders were given using the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ instead of ‘port’ and ‘starboard.’ As they transited Shoal Pass the pilot and the captain were engaged in conversation and on completion of their talk the captain said, “Alright pilot!”

The nervous helmsman responded to what he thought to be a helms order and applied full right (starboard) rudder. The ship veered to starboard and mounted the nearby shallows at full speed.

Fortunately, no lives were lost. The passengers were rescued the next day. The investigation into the incident revealed that the use of the words ‘right’ and ‘left’ were the cause of the accident. As a result of that incident, all directions on the ship are given as ‘starboard’ (right) and ‘port’ (left).


One Response

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  1. Anonymous said, on July 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    US merchant ships and navy ones still use left and right rudder commands, not so in the whole world. It appears that lessons learnt are slow in application.

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