By Alan Neuhauser, Carla Zanoni and Wil Cruz
MANHATTAN — Hours before the USS Intrepid got a front-row view of the historic flyover by its future tenant, the Enterprise space shuttle, it had to fend off an unexpected gatecrasher: a massive cruise ship that hit the side of the pier where the aircraft carrier is docked.
The Norwegian Star, a 2,348-passenger ship trying to dock Friday morning amid the growing excitement of the space shuttle flyover lost control and grazed the side of the Intrepid, officials and witnesses said.
"This morning at approximately 8:30 a.m., a Norwegian Cruise ship grazed Pier 86, the home of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, as it was turning to pull into Pier 88," an Intrepid staffer confirmed in an e-mail to DNAinfo.com. "The Museum is inspecting the pier for damage but it appears minimal at this time."
"There was no impact on the preparations for the flyover of the Enterprise almost two hours later," according to the emailed statement.
The crash happened shortly before the Enterprise — which took off from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., attached to a 747 Boeing Shuttle Carrier aircraft — flew around the city at about 1,500 feet.
The shuttle eventually landed at JFK International Airport. It will spend time traveling around the country before being taken by barge to the Intrepid in June.
The 965-foot-long cruise ship — which was on its first trip to New York this season — was struggling to dock Friday morning because of heavy winds and choppy waters, Norwegian Cruise Line officials said in an email.
WItnesses said the massive ship tried to reverse course in order to dock, but was unsuccessful.
"He tried four times, up and back, up and back, four times," said Drago Ivanko, an elevator porter on Pier 88, referring to the ship operator. "It was windy, low tide. When there's low tide, the river started going a little faster."
John Chiaradio, 49, who was on the cruise with his wife, Sheli, said he could feel the impact.
"He hit about mid-ship on the starboard side," said Chiaradio, of Bristol, Conn.
"It was loud. It sounded like sticks breaking. Big sticks."
There were no injuries reported.
The Intrepid was the site of a second incident Friday afternoon when a passenger was hooked in the eyebrow on deck, officials said. The unidentified passenger was being treated on board, and her injuries were not described as life-threatening.
Editor's note: DNAinfo originally reported that the cruise ship hit the Intrepid based on early reports.
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