BOSTON (CBS) – The Coast Guard is investigating after a small cruise ship with hundreds of students on board hit moored boats in Boston Harbor Thursday morning.

As they set off for the cruise, the eighth-grade class from Day Middle School in Newton quickly realized there was a big problem.

“I thought we were turning around and then we started getting close to all these really small boats and I realized something is definitely wrong,” said student Dani Kingsley.

ship1 Boston Harbor Cruise Ship Loses Propulsion, Hits Moored Boats

Odyssey crashes into sailboats in Boston Harbor (Photo credit Boston Harbor Boat Rentals)

About 300 students and teachers were onboard the vessel, The Odyssey, for a pre-graduation field trip.

Excitement turned into fear.

“There was a man in a boat very close to us who was jumping from boat to boat to try and save his life pretty much,” Kingsley said.

vernon Boston Harbor Cruise Ship Loses Propulsion, Hits Moored Boats

Vernon Fritch climbs across sailboats hit by Odyssey cruise ship in Boston Harbor (WBZ-TV)

That man is Vernon Fritch – an instructor at Boston Harbor Sailing Club.

“It was coming straight at me about three knots,” Fritch said.

He was inside one of the cabins when he heard The Odyssey’s horn.

“When I come up there was this big stern coming at me,” he said. “I was startled, I was surprised.”

vernon1 Boston Harbor Cruise Ship Loses Propulsion, Hits Moored Boats

Vernon Fritch (WBZ-TV)

The ship pushed the small sailboats together only causing cosmetic damage. Fritch managed to jump out of the way and escape injury.

Dani sent a text to her mom. “The boat just crashed, we don’t know what’s going on, but thank God everyone’s OK,” said Sarah Perry, describing the text she received from Kingsley.

The Odyssey’s crew says they experienced a brief loss of throttle and the Coast Guard says the captain quickly regained power.

The party continued on the boat – though without the excitement of a cruise. The students were moved to a lower deck and continued their event with lunch and music until their scheduled 1 p.m. dismissal.

odssey2 Boston Harbor Cruise Ship Loses Propulsion, Hits Moored Boats

The Coast Guard investigates after the Odyssey lost propulsion and hit several boats. (WBZ-TV)

“They always say you should go out of school with a big bang and a bash but we didn’t think it would be so literal,” Perry said.

No pollution to the harbor resulted from the incident. Several of the sailboats were left with scrapes following impact.

Odyssey Boston said in a statement the issue with the ship has been identified and will be fixed.

Our marine crew have identified the cause of the malfunction and are making the necessary repair to ready the ship for its return to service. We expect to be sailing again shortly. While these types of incidents are rare, we are fully prepared and equipped to handle them. As a company, we take the safety of our guests and crew very seriously, and operate our vessels to the highest marine safety standards. The company has an exemplary record, and has served millions of guests in over 30 years cruising Boston Harbor. 

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