Body of Missing HAL Ryndam Crew Member Washes Ashore

Ryndam Cruise ShipThis morning, the body of a crew member missing from the Holland America Line (HAL) Ryndam washed ashore in Pinellas County, Florida, a local news station in Clearwater reports.

The HAL crew member disappeared from the Ryndam near Egmont Key when the cruise ship was returning to port in Tampa on December 21, 2014. There is no public information which I have located explaining how the crew member went overboard. 

The body was identified as Cliford B. Minej (a/k/a Menezes), a 27-year-old man from India.

Mr. Minej's body was found by a person walking on the beach who saw it and alerted the police. 

The death reportedly has been ruled accidental by the medical examiner's office.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein records over 240 crew members and passengers going overboard HAL crew member Clifford Menezessince 2000.

December 27, 2014 Update: Zee newspaper in India states that " . . . the captain of the ship didn't notify authorities of Minej's disappearance until late in the morning of the incident, the Coast Guard didn't know if he had gone overboard or disembarked at the cruise terminal."

The 2012 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act requires cruise lines to install automatic man overboard systems so that the bridge will be immediately contacted when a person goes overboard. Unfortunately HAL has not bothered to comply with this law.  There should never be a situation like this where a person disappears at sea without explanation.  

December 28, 2014 Update: Times of India has additional information: "Clifford had joined the 'Ryndam' on December 6 as a cook and was to return to his Merbhat home in Agashi, Virar (West) in May next year."

Photo Credit: Top - Wikipedia / Roger Wollstadt Creative Commons 3.0 / Botton - Mumbai Mirror. Video: WFLA

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WFLA News Channel 8

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Comments (22) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Jayesh Dias - December 27, 2014 6:43 AM

Hé was my good friend we were working togather in india

Ian Johnson - December 27, 2014 2:47 PM

You say that HAL has not bothered complying with the law. Do you have definitive proof of this? Or are you assuming this to be so due to the circumstances of this particular incident?

I'm sure that even the most advanced man overboard detection systems are not foolproof.

Having worked at sea myself for many years I can say from personal experience that there are a multitude of ways a crew member can go overboard without anyone ever knowing. Especially if it is intentional (not suggesting this instance was intentional).

Also citing an Indian newspaper as a credible source of information is a bit suspect at best. I would recommend getting all the facts before spouting your rhetoric. Isn't that what lawyers are supposed to do?

Jim Walker - December 27, 2014 5:14 PM

Ian:

Holland America Line (HAL) has a major problem with passengers and crew going overboard. The cruise line always claims that it doesn't know why the person disappeared from the ship. Here are a few examples:

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2012/10/articles/disappearances-1/holland-america-line-cruise-passenger-disappears-how-is-that-possible/

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2012/02/articles/disappearances-1/disappearance-of-passenger-from-hals-oosterdam-reveals-cruise-line-fbi-and-coast-guard-shortcomings/

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2011/10/articles/disappearances-1/body-of-missing-holland-america-line-passenger-found-near-prince-edward-island/

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2009/09/articles/maritime-death/suicide-one-of-the-cruise-lines-favorite-excuses-when-a-passenger-disappears-at-sea/

http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/south-florida-travel/2012/11/30/man-missing-from-holland-americas-ms-eurodam-cruise-ship/

There is a pattern on HAL ships where the cause of the overboard is always a "mystery." This reflects poorly on the security in HAL's fleet and indicates an absence of not only automatic man overboard systems but a lack of CCTV systems. Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess, etc.) refuse to install the available technology and doesn't even have an adequate number of old-school technology (CCTV cameras) on some ships.

I'm very interested in your comment that "there are a multitude of ways a crew member can go overboard without anyone ever knowing." Assuming you're correct, that's a disturbing observation on the poor level of security on the ships where you worked. If people can go overboard undetected, then they can come onboard the ship at the same location undetected.

Please explain all of the locations where someone can go off or on the ships undetected.

What cruise lines did you work for? It seems like HAL and Princess as far as I can tell. Are you still working on ships or are you back in Jamaica?

Good lawyers try to get to the truth of the matter. Unfortunately I learned long ago that the cruise lines and their cheerleaders (like you) try to keep these incidents secret and like to criticize those people trying to get to the bottom of incidents like this.

Kristoffer - December 27, 2014 6:53 PM

"Also citing an Indian newspaper as a credible source of information is a bit suspect at best."

Racist much, Ian?

Joe - December 28, 2014 10:35 AM

Sad news for him, his family and coworkers. As they would always think if there was something they could have done to avoid it.

You seems to know many laws. Is there any that specify exactly if there should be cameras in the open decks and so?

i just wonder because i do not think so. Cruise ships have thousands of inspections every year and if a similar law to this would exist, i am pretty sure that HAL and the other main cruises would have installed them.

If someone; passenger or crew jumps overboard the cruise have some procedures to follow. I am sure that they followed them. The issue might be the exact time when the crew member jumped. Because if it was after his shift, it is difficult to miss him until he had to return on duty next day. All these kind of news might be taken counting different perspectives.

Andy - December 28, 2014 10:49 AM

From a recent Holland America "Today On Location" (daily program): "Holland America Line has installed and is now testing the first ever thermal imaging system designed for a large cruise ship which immediately detects any person who may accidentally fall overboard."

Jim Walker - December 28, 2014 11:04 AM

Andy:

Very interesting. Which ship? Can you send me a copy of the program? jim@cruiselaw.com or 305 995 5310 (fax).

Thanks!

tinikini - December 28, 2014 8:52 PM

Ian....I too want to know all of those places a crew member could go overboard, because, gee, a lot of the crew members are where I am on the ship. So enlighten us all so we know all of the places to stay away from while on the ship. How does a cook fall overboard out of the kitchen or out of his room in the hull??? Man overboard systems should be in place for accidents, thugs, and suicides and the cruise lines all have plenty of money to install them. The cruising public should demand it or not sail. Period. Prayers to the family and friends for their loss.

Skip - December 28, 2014 8:54 PM

I got off a cruise on the Westerdam on Saturday and saw the same thing Andy saw in one of the daily programs about the man overboard system being installed and tested, So, I assume it is on the Westerdam at least.

Diago Lopes - December 28, 2014 11:58 PM

How the body of my beloved friend goes missing for 5 days and the captain has no clue, nothing is captured on the radar and no cctv footage how he fell from the deck as all deck areas have camera surveillance also the cruise line HAL has no decency of informing his family of the death they only have informed about his missing information on 21st December. How can an American company be so irresponsible that a poor young human life has no value...

We all are in a shock back here in india and are awaiting the body of Clifford Minej so that we have a peaceful funeral. Also hopping that the procedure doesn't take much time and we recieve the body as soon as possible.

Brijay Menezes - December 29, 2014 1:04 AM

Body of Clifford Menezes, 27, washes up on Florida beach 5 days after he was reported missing.

The body of a 27-year-old man from Virar, who was working on a Caribbean cruise ship, washed ashore on a Florida beach on Friday, after he had been reported missing last Sunday.

Clifford Menezes, who lived in Agashi, Virar, had joined the kitchen gallery of luxury cruise ship MS Ryndam operated by Holland America Line on December 8, and disappeared around 3 am on December 21 as it sailed along Tampa Bay in Florida.

Local police launched a massive search operation for him only around 8am Sunday when they were informed by the ship's captain, who feared that Menezes had either jumped off or had fallen from the ship. Around 7.15 am (local Florida time) on Friday, Menezes' body, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, drifted ashore at Clearwater Beach.

At Virar on Saturday, news of the body being recovered cast a pall of gloom on the Menezes residence. "All we knew was that Clifford had been missing, and we were in constant communication with the shipping company ever since," Lesley, Clifford's elder brother who is a chief officer on a cargo ship, told Mirror. Clifford, a bachelor, was one of three brothers who live with their senior citizen parents, Baptist and Joanna.

As news spread, friends and relatives began gathering at the Menezes residence. "He was with us till late November, and wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Virar. But he had to sail out as it was a new job. My parents are yet to come to terms with this," Leslie said.

Remembering Menezes, his friends from St James High School in Agashi said he was a cheerful young man. "At his previous workplace, Celebrity Cruises, he had been honoured with several medals and trophies for his work in the galley," friends gathered at his residence said.

Leslie said the family wants the body to be brought back, before thinking about anything else. "We will consider the investigation aspect later. Right now efforts are on to bring his body back to Mumbai," he said.

According to members of the family, the Indian High Commission in US is making arrangements for the body to be brought back. "The festival season in the US is causing a slight delay. But we hope it will not take too long," a relative said.

A statement by the Clearwater Police Department said that the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office had ruled Menezes' death as accidental after a probe.

Another statement from Holland America Line, said that the ship was at the end of a 14-day trip to the Caribbean. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our crew members and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time," the statement said.

Sandra Murzello - December 29, 2014 1:09 AM

Even the ABC Action News the witness of Sand Key beach said that " THERE WAS A YELLOW PIECE OF PLASTIC COVERING SOMETHING" so it clearly means that the lady was not aware about the dead body inside.... We need proper explanation on this from where the plastic came along with Clifford's Body.As we have lost our beloved friend..... http://youtu.be/dcyxq3JWue4

Diago Lopes - December 29, 2014 1:15 AM

We demand the proof by "Holland America Line" which has installed and can now do the testing of the first ever thermal imaging system designed for a large cruise ship which immediately detects any person who may accidentally fall overboard.

We want justice for cliford Minej........

Jerry Menezes - December 29, 2014 1:27 AM

When the condition is worst in the family, the HAL company is still making await the family, friends and relatives and making the situation more worst . Family had a talk with Clear Water Police on 26th Dec,14 and they said body is been ready to take back at his home, yet company has to say that police is been investigating. I think the company cant understand the value of ones life.
We need a justified answer with further investigation of our beloved brothers death.
Hope that company understands the situation and makes it better as soon as possible.

Brijay Menezes - December 29, 2014 1:37 AM

It is very sad that the company is not yet communicating with the family members about the progress of the investigation
And who is investigating what
Everyone here is just waiting for the body of our beloved brother too arrive for the funeral

Bronel J. Menezes - December 29, 2014 3:39 AM

We just want HAL to hand over the body of our beloved brother to the family to perform the final rituals peacefully.. We further demand the company to carry out a proper investigation in this case and provide us with a satisfactory answer. HAL you just can't be so irresponsible in this case. We are waiting for a proper communication from your side.

Prinkle Pereira - December 29, 2014 7:13 AM

"Holland America Line" @ Mr. Jim Walker
"Holland America Line"

Here is the confusion Mr. Clifford walked in his cabin that capture in CCTV footage, than how come it does not have CCTV footage while he walk out his cabin?

I have heard its reputed company , but never expected such avoidances?

We want justice for my best friend.

Gladys Dias - December 29, 2014 8:42 AM

I urge the company to take serious action against those who r responsible for the security lapse wch resulted in my brothers demise. Plz ensure a just and unbiased investigation.

Diason Dabreo - December 29, 2014 1:42 PM

HAL has failed to comply as per The 2012 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act absence of automatic man overboard systems and lack of CCTV systems. HAL We are waiting for your proper explanation and investigation on this matter.

James Gonsalves - December 31, 2014 11:05 AM

HAL has to give the proper explanation regarding what happened to its crew member mr.Clifford Menezes also they have to do the proper investigation because the information which we have got so far shows only one thing and that is how negligence is the HAL. How a cruising company like HAL has no updated CCTV system onboard.and if HAL can't provide the proper explanation then all the officers on board
MS Ryndam should be suspended that includes captain and staff captain of the ship for not following the proper law and cold of conduct

Elvira dsouza - January 9, 2015 10:03 PM

Exactly 15 days today after we received the shocking sad news of the sudden loss of our brother Clifford. We finally receive his corpse at his residence today early morning. The grief, the pain,the loss, the entire wait of 15 days has surely left every family member, relatives,friend and well wishers in an indescribable journey of survival. This incident and many more in the past are factors of shame for HAL. We definitely need justice for this huge loss.

Steven Fernandes - April 30, 2015 12:19 PM

Dear Sir/madam,
Authority of HAL,

We Indians were hoping the fast investigation for our beloved brother Late Cliford. Its been 4 months and 4 days and there is no progress or result for investigation.

We request you to update us on the case. Your investigation system have failed to give proper justice to this case.

Please take it on fast track and give justice to our beloved brother.

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