Numerous news sources are reporting that a Celebrity Cruises' crew member went overboard from a cruise ship sailing off of the coast of Mexico.
Crew member Inyoman Bagiada, age 45, reportedly disappeared from the Celebrity Constellation at around 2:30 AM today, according to a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was employed on the cruise ship as a cook.
The Constellation was returning from Cozumel, Mexico, to Port Everglades, Florida, after a five-day cruise. The incident reportedly occurred between Mexico and Cuba.
This is the sixth cruise ship disappearance in the last 5 weeks.
Royal Caribbean and sister company Celebrity have recently lost 4 people overboard. In addition to this latest overboard, people went overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean is one of the cruise lines which is in violation of the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) which requires the installation of automatic man overboard systems. Four years ago Congress passed the CVSSA nto law, over the cruise industry's objections, most cruise lines have not installed the required systems.
What typically occurs is that a person goes overboard without anyone seeing the passenger or crew member. The cruise ship then sails on, often for many hours. Eventually the person's absence is noticed, but the ship is many miles away. At that point the cruise ship will notify the Coast Guard, which must then search vast areas of the ocean at the cost to U.S taxpayers of $1,000,000.
The Coast Guard sent a HC-130 Hercules aircraft Clearwater, Florida and the Charles David Jr., a 154-foot cutter from Key West.
A man overboard system would result in an immediate notification of the person going overboard and a rapid search and rescue. Sending Coast Guard airplanes and vessels from long distances away could be avoided with the man overboard systems. Lives could be saved which are now being lost.
Royal Caribbean experienced 8 crew members going overboard from its fleet of ships in less than 2 years between January 2011 and October 2012. You can read about those cases here.
It's my belief that unless the cruise lines face steep fines, or are responsible for paying for the Coast Guard's search, they will continue to flaunt the law.
January 30 2014 Update: The Daily Mail reports that "according to the Coast Guard, the cruise did not report Bagiada missing until eight hours after he fell overboard."
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Photo Credit of Celebrity Constellation - Wikipedia / Megadri