Today a number of people contacted me believing that a passenger had gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas near Auckland, New Zealand.
The cruise ship notified the local coast guard last night and a helicopter arrived from Auckland. The cruise ship turned back to guide maritime authorities to the location where the body had been seen. The cruise ship sent a rescue boat to the scene.
It turns out that no one went overboard and the body in the water was that of a missing fisherman.
Here is an account by a passenger on the cruise ship:
"At approximately 7:45pm on Dec. 3, 2014, as the ship sailed from Auckland to Tauranga, New Zealand, an "Oscar" alert (port side) was announced from the Bridge. The ship was stopped and the emergency rescue operation was immediate.
I viewed the activity from Deck 11 (Windjammer) as the yellow ship rescue boat retrieved an orange life ring from the ocean on the port side of the ship. It made many passes as it looked for the person. A dark colored rescue helicopter was also present.
While it was after sundown, there was still light to conduct the operation. However, they were going to lose the light soon.
At approximately 8:35pm, from the starboard side of the ship, the yellow rescue boat appeared to have the person at the side of the boat. There were three crew on the rescue boat: one navigating and the other two holding on to the person over the side of the boat. From what I could see, the person appeared to be wearing a dark shirt or sweater and appeared to be large in size. It appeared the person could not be lifted onto the rescue boat by the two crew holding on.
A red and yellow rescue helicopter joined the dark colored helicopter on the starboard side of the ship near the rescue boat. A wet-suited diver with swim fins jumped from the red/yellow helicopter into the ocean, holding some sort of harness (it appeared to be black and bright pink in color). The diver swam to the yellow rescue boat.
An orange and white boat drove up and appeared to be some sort of Coast Guard vessel. From what I could see, the Coast Guard vessel did not get close enough to the yellow rescue boat to allow a handover of the person. There did not appear to be a hoisting of the person into the red/yellow helicopter via the harness.
At approximately 8:45pm, the yellow rescue boat left the scene and proceeded to return to the port side of the ship (from which it was launched). I was standing at the aft end of the ship and watched as the yellow boat drove by me. It appeared to contain only three people: the navigator and two crew members in white RCCL jumpsuits.
The red/yellow rescue helicopter appeared to fly over the ship once before returning to shore. The white/orange Coast Guard vessel departed the scene, but did not appear to be traveling at a great rate of speed.
The Captain made an announcement from the Bridge (this is the general jist of what he said....any direct quotes are noted with "......"): "This is the Captain speaking from the Bridge. As you can see, we have deviated from our course." This is because a guest noticed a person in the water and we started a rescue operation. "The person was recovered and is in the care of the Coast Guard. We are hopeful for a happy ending." This will not impact our arrival at our next port of call. We appreciate your patience and are grateful for the help of all guests involved."
. . . The crew sprang to action at once and crew not involved in the operation directly appeared somber as they continued their duties . . .
The Captain made an announcement at dinner tonight: The "Oscar" incident did not involve a passenger or crew member from the ship. It was a local fisherman who had been reported missing at sea earlier. He obviously did not survive the incident, but the Chief Safety Officer and the rescue crew were able to find the body and hand over to the Coast Guard. At least his family has closure and he can be laid to rest properly . . . ."
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Fletcher6 Creative Commons 3.0