P&O Ferry Erupts in Flames

P7O Ferry FireA P&O ferry erupted in flames as it sailed from Dover, England to Calais, France this morning.

A number of news sources report that a fire broke out in the engine room of the Pride of Canterbury as it was approaching port in France.

337 passengers and 119 crew members were aboard the ferry at the time of the fire. 

Many of the on-line newspapers carried video and photographs taken of the fire by passenger Ed Sproston, from Kent, who recorded images of what he described as "thick toxic fumes" which "left him struggling for breath."

Mr. Sproston said the fire blazed for "a good 20 minutes" before before it was extinguished. He told the Dover Express that he observed crew members "wearing breathing apparatus as they tried to tackle the blaze."

Mr. Sproston told reporters that a "lot of people were panicking and the crew were trying to calm them Pride of Canterberry Firedown. But it was all a bit disorganised. My lungs are still hurting now . . ."

P&O down-played the fire, claiming that it "was extinguished straight away by the sprinkler system." P&O also quickly claimed that "there were no injuries, either among the crew or passengers. The passengers disembarked as normal."

P&O has been in the press repeatedly following the disappearance of passengers at sea. The mother of one passenger, Marianne Fearnside mom to her son Richard, started a petition to require ferries to install CCTV cameras. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Video and Photo Credit: Ed Sproston via Daily Mail; lower photo - Julien Carpentier (Facebook)

 

 

Deadly Cruise and Ferry Air Emissions Debate: U.K. Shipping Companies Deceive the Public

New air emission regulations will shortly affect the U.K. shipping industry. Toxic sulfur emissions must be reduced to 0.1 per cent, from a current high of around 4.5 per cent, by January 1, 2015. 

The reason for the new regulations is that high sulfur fuel contributes substantially to emphysema, lung disease, congestive heart failure, birth defects, and premature deaths. It is a topic we have written about regularly.

The health risks posed by the cruise industry's use of high sulfur fuels are enormous. I published an article years ago called Bunker Fuel - Nasty Tar Sludge! which explains how bunker fuel - which is P&O Ferries a tar-like substance left as the residue of the refinery process - is the nastiest and most toxic fuel on planet earth. It is unconscionable to burn it.

But bunker fuel is the cornerstone of the shipping industry. Cruise and ferry companies burn it all of the time. Why? Because it is dirt cheap and the shipping industry profit handsomely by using it.

The new air emissions standards will cut into the cruise and ferry lines' profits. The fuel is, of course, more expensive. The public will need to pay higher fares.   

The shipping executives are continuing to try and delay the implementation of the new health regulations. We have been writing about the need for new regulations ever since I started this blog five years ago.

Over the years, the cruise industry has done just about everything possible to avoid regulation and continue to burn high sulfur fuel.  In the U.S., the industry sued the Environmental Protection Agency to keep burning dirty fuel. It has initiated scare tactics saying that jobs in the maritime sector will be lost and passengers will face astronomical fares. 

In the U.K. and Europe, the executives at the major ferry lines - P&O Ferries, DFDS and MyFerryLink - are all facing the same challenge to maintain profits. But their approaches are all different.  

According to the Dover Express, P&O claims that the clean fuel costs will now soar to £30 million a year and it has no choice but to stick it to their passengers.

But the Danish ferry operator, DFDS, has invested £80 million in "scrubbers" to improve the air quality of its ship emissions.

P&O on the other hand has joined in a campaign by the UK Chamber of Shipping to scare the public. Helen Deeble, CEO of P&O, joined in an open letter posted in the U.K. Telegraph, claiming that the low sulfur is prohibitively expensive, will lead to pay-offs in the shipping sector, and thousands of more trucks will clog the roads.

Deeble and the U.K. shipping and port CEO's claim that shipping is responsible for 90 per cent of world trade but emits just 2.7 per cent of global CO2. They cite no authority for this claim. it is a bold face lie. 

The U.S. EPA has concluded that a single cruise ship will emit the same amount of sulfur dioxide as 13,100,000 (million) cars and as much soot as over 1,000,000 (million) cars.

The new quality regulations will not suddenly cause ferries to be scrapped and the roads in the U.K. to become clogged with lorries spewing smoke and smog over the pastoral landscape of Great Britain. These claims are part of the cruise and ferry companies' scare tactics.

We have seen this irresponsibility from the U.K. ferry operators before.  P&O Ferries won't invest a pence into CCTV camera technology even though it has a problem with passengers and crew disappearing from the open decks of its ships. P&O and other U.K. operators have had a long time to implement scrubber technology to protect the health of their passengers and crew and the general public. But they have persistently refused to do so.  

Faced with the January 1st deadline, the shipping industry in the U.K. is crying wolf.

 

Photo Credit:  Dover  Express

No Answers, No CCTV & No Justice: P&O Ferries Leaves Fearnside Family in the Dark

It was a dark night when 30 year-old Richard Fearnside disappeared from P&O Ferries' Pride of Kent ferry as it was sailing from Calais back to Dover. His girlfriend said that he was going to the top deck to smoke a cigarette. Richard never returned. P&O didn't sound an alarm until the ferry returned to port.

P&O Ferries could offer no explanation to Richard's parents, Bob and Marianne, regarding what happened to their son while the P&O ferry was cruising in the middle of the English Channel. Although other passengers and crew had disappeared from P&O ferries under mysterious circumstances in the past, the ferry company had not bothered to install a single CCTV camera on the decks of its fleet of Richard Fearnside P&O FerriesP&O ships for safety and security purposes.  

P&O chose instead to install surveillance cameras only in its duty free shops on the ferries. Jewelry and alcohol, it appears, are more precious to P&O than its customers.

Richard vanished a year ago today.

It's an anniversary date no parent wants.

For a year, Richard's parents have faced what they believe to be P&O's cover-up of his disappearance. 

Richard's mother, Marianne, wrote a letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble, about her son's disappearance and sought information. P&O sent a boorish response, not from Ms. Deeble, but from a public relations clod at the ferry company. The PR company man told her that installing safety cameras was a silly, impractical idea.

Last December, I sent an open letter to Ms. Deeble about the absence of CCTV cameras on the P&O ferries. There are huge cruise ships in the U.S. that have literally over 1,000 CCTV cameras installed on board. Ms. Deeble chose to ignore my letter just like she initially ignored Marianne's letter. 

Ignored by P&O, Marianne started a petition to require P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras on its passenger decks. The petition resonated with the public. To date, over 95,000 people have signed the petition while making insightful and poignant comments explaining why safety camera are required. You can see the petition here

Bob and Marianne FearnsideThe Fearnsides remain in the dark about what happened to Richard. P&O's attitude toward them, and its irresponsible refusal to install cameras on its ships, ensure that other passengers will disappear without explanation.  

Please take a moment to click on the petition. Please sign it. Please tell P&O why it should finally install cameras. 

 

Please read a few of our other articles:

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

P&O Ferries Crisis Manager Is No Stranger to Ferry Disasters

P&O Ferries No-CCTV Camera Controversy: Expect a Long Fight

 

Bottom photo credit: Canterbury Times

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Korean Ferry Disaster Sucks Cruise Industry Back Into Controversy

For the past week I have watched specials on television and read articles about the Korean ferry disaster when the Sewol capsized with several hundreds school children aboard.

I have been asked to provide interviews on CNN and radio talk shows.

All of the television and radio interviewers invariably asked about the similarities between the sinking of the Costa Concordia and the current disaster. I have been asked about the cowardly conduct and arrest of both captains, the erroneous information provided to the passengers on both vessels, the failure to deploy and utilize the lifeboats and life-rafts in a timely manner, and the unnecessary loss of life on both ships.       

This afternoon CNN aired coverage about both the Sewol and Concordia disasters. 

Today CNN aired Abandon ship? In Recent Maritime Disasters, Captains Don't Hang Around.

Today the New York Times published Duty and Shame as the Ship Sank.

In both the NYT article and the CNN video today, more time was spent talking about the Costa cruise disaster than the recent ferry mishap.

A survivor of the Concordia appeared on CNN this afternoon (photo below) and talked about her family's harrowing ordeal of escaping the sinking ship after Captain Schettino abandoned ship. She lamented that there is no international maritime organization with any real authority to require greater responsibility of the maritime companies which transport passengers.

The images of helicopters hovering over the stricken Korean ship and grieving families ashore appear indistinguishable from the Concordia disaster over two years ago.  

The cruise industry has taken a beating in the last few years. More Concordia-like cowardly captains, dead passengers and dramatic news anchors on TV are not the type of images that sell cruise vacations.

Sewol ferry costa concordia disaster

How Do You Say Schettino in Korean? Captain of Sinking Ferry Among the First to Abandon Ship

The captain of the sunken ferry Korean ferry Sewol reportedly was one of the first to abandon ship and make it safely to shore.

Only one of the 47 lifeboats were deployed. The abandon ship order was not made until 30 minutes after the ferry began to sink.

There are around 275 people, mostly teenagers, missing at sea.

Does anyone know how to say Schettino in Korean?

South Korea Ferry Disaster - Nearly 300 Missing

Earlier this morning we posted an article on Facebook about a terrible maritime disaster involving a South Korean ferry carrying 462 passengers and crew members.

The ferry is the Sewol and was carrying hundreds of school children. The official count was 325 students and 14 teachers

The ferry was sailing south to the resort island of Jeju. it apparently hit something, listed and quickly sank.

There is no indication yet what caused the disaster.  

Many students on the sinking ferry sent heartbreaking text messages to their parents.

A CNN video is below:

Disappearance of Richard Fearnside, Missing P&O Ferries Passenger, Featured on U.K. Television

Richard Fearnside Missing at SeaITV television broadcast this video to a nationwide audience in the U.K. yesterday about the plight of the Fearnside family who lost their son, Richard (photo left), at sea from a ferry, the Pride of Kent.

The ferry is operated by P&O Ferries. The ferry line does not have any automatic man overboard systems or even surveillance cameras on its ferries.

In the U.S., virtually all cruise lines have many hundreds of surveillance cameras throughout their cruise ships. Some U.S. based cruise lines (but not many) also have automatic man overboard systems which send an alarm to the bridge when passengers or crew members go overboard.

I sent an open letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble (photo below right), which she ignored. 

It is amazing to me that P&O does not have such basic safety systems in place.

Helen Deeble P&O responded to the ITV program by saying that it is not required by law to install even a single camera on its ships. P&O has chosen to install cameras only in its duty free. Jewelry and alcohol  appear to be more precious to P&O than its customers.

Watch the video about the Fearnside - P&O Ferries dispute here.

Richard's mother, Marianne, started a petition to require P&O to install CCTV cameras on its ferries. Over 91,000 people have signed it so far. The petition is addressed to Ms.Deeble.

Click on the petition here and please sign it. You will have an opportunity to the reasons why cameras should be installed on the P&O ships.

King Seaways Ferry Catches Fire in North Sea: Seven Airlifted to Hospital

The Daily Mail reports this evening that a fire broke out aboard a ferry operated by DFDS Seaways in the North Sea.

The ferry is the King Seaways, carrying 1,000 passengers, which was sailing from North Shields (in the U.K.) and heading to Amsterdam. DFDS is a Danish owned ferry operation. 

The fire reportedly started in a passenger cabin and was apparently set by a passenger. The ferry company is not stating what caused the fire. Passengers and crew were reportedly overcome by smoke which they inhaled. RAF helicopters were involved in the medevacs.

The ferry is now in the process of returning to port, and is expected to return in a few hours.

DFDS released the following statement:

"Yesterday, Saturday 28 December, a fire broke out in a passenger cabin on the DFDS Seaways cruise ferry King Seaways, which was en route from Newcastle to Amsterdam.

We can confirm that there were 946 passengers and 127 crew members onboard. Fifteen passengers and eight crew members are reported to have suffered from smoke-related injuries. They have been checked by a doctor onboard, and two passengers and four crew members have been taken ashore by helicopter for further medical assistance at a local hospital in the UK."

The Daily Mail reports that the DFDS ferries have a reputation for stag parties and heavy drinking. Last year we reported about a 28 year old man who was reportedly sailing on a DFDS Amsterdam "booze cruise" when he awoke in the ship's bar on fire: Passenger Seriously Burned in Cruise Ship Bar.

If you have information about this latest fire, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

December 29th Update: Via Daily Mail: "We were treated like animals on that boat." Passengers' anger after fire-hit ferry bound for Amsterdam returns to port but travelers are kept on board as police arrest two men.

 

King Seaways Ferry Fire

Photo credit: AIS map - maritinetraffic.com

P&O Ferries' Competitors Weigh in on Man-Overboard CCTV Camera Debate in U.K.

We have asked P&O Ferries' primary competitors to answer whether they have CCTV cameras on the passenger decks on their ships. We'd like to see whether P&O Ferries is the only U.K. based ferry line not using CCTV cameras to monitor and record the activities on their passenger decks.

France's MyFerryLink answered today stating only "Yes." We're less than sure exactly what applications this ferry line is using surveillance camera for (gift shop, interior hallways or exterior decks), although we appreciate the (one word) response.

DFDS Seaways Dover to CalaisDFDS Seaways provided the following response to our inquiry:   

"DFDS Seaways has, to a varying degree, camera surveillance on all of our ships, monitoring indoor and outdoor areas, for both safety and security reasons. In our experience, we believe that cameras are a passive monitoring method that will not efficiently prevent people from falling overboard or lead to a faster response and life-saving action. We will always monitor and consider the latest safety developments, new methods and techniques, including onboard cameras, that could save people and prevent accidents. We are also always open for discussion and sharing both experiences and best practice with other operators in the industry."

Okay, its not exactly the response I hoped for.  Seems like DFDS is doing something but is not supportive of requiring CCTV cameras on all exterior decks on all ships.  But DFDS has voiced an open mind, unlike P&O Ferries, and has stated an interest in open discussions and best practices. 

When push comes to shove and the issue of mandatory legislation requiring CCTV cameras on U.K. ferries comes to a vote, at this point DFDS may side with P&O Ferries. But its responsiveness to our requests evidences a different and more respectful response compared to their ferry rivals.

There's no question that CCTV and man overboard detection systems can immediately notify the bridge of man overboards, hasten rescues, and save lives. Perhaps DFDS can meet with experts on this issue and can be a leader in this field.   

We previously requested our readers and Facebook followers to send us photographs of the CCTV cameras on P&O, DFDS and MyFerryLink.  We've received some responses and images but would like to see a broader response to this inquiry.  If you are crossing between Dover and Calais on one of these lines, please take a photo of any cameras on the exterior decks on these ferries and send us an email. If you know of any safety issues on these ferries, good or bad, we'd like to hear from you as well.

Don't forget Marianne Fearnside's petition to require CCTV cameras on ferries.  There are over 85,700 supporters so far!          

An Open Letter to P&O Ferries CEO Helen Deeble: Do the Right Thing

Dear Ms. Deeble.

Cruise and ferry executives have difficult jobs, I suspect. You have to effectively deal with labor disputes, increasing fuel costs, and price wars with your competitors in an increasing difficult economy. What a headache.

In addition to managing the financial pluses and minuses of your businesses, cruise executives like you also have to timely and effectively respond to public criticism when things go wrong on the high seas. But many maritime CEO's, who are well educated and highly experienced in business and Helen Deeble P&O Ferriesaccounting matters, suffer from an inability to manage their company's reputation when they face public scrutiny.

I know that you have faced tough economic times before while running your ferry business. At this time last year, you were finishing a major evaluation of P&O operations which addressed declining revenue and increasing costs facing your staff over 4,000 employees. P&O encountered stiff competition from rival ferry lines Danish-based DFDS Seaways and France's MyFerryLink as well as the underwater train operators to France, in addition to generally tough economic times across Europe.  

It must be hard to be responsible for over 4,000 employees who depend on P&O to support their families. After prior evaluations over the years, I know that you had to axe thousands of ferry employees to maintain profitability for the corporation. It's doubly hard when a U.K. company like yours goes head-to-head with well run companies like DFDS Seaways (those Danish are hard working and efficient people, aren't they?)

Your other competitor, France's Groupe Eurotunnel, has not only the underwater train system but they enjoy lower priced ferry fares with their MyFerryLink brand. This upsets me. I'm a fan of Winston Churchill and the U.K. battle against Germany from 1939 to 1945 still inspires me. So P&O having to compete with the French, who would be part of Germany but for the P&O FerriesU.K.'s sacrifice and courage, seems hardly fair. I am rooting for your U.K. ferry line to beat its overseas rivals. But I suppose that's just my biased perspective.

Added to your difficult financial equation, I know that P&O received embarrassing treatment by the press in the U.K. last year after an internal company report concluded that exhausted cross-Channel P&O ferry workers suffering from sleep deprivation and stress presented a danger to their ships and passengers. The information from your internal report, based on a survey of 500 of your ferry workers measuring their hours of work, watch-keeping and fatigue, was leaked by a worker to a newspaper which published "Passengers at Risk Because of Tired Ferry Workers." Sometimes its hard to keep these type of things secret with all of the newspapers looking for a scoop. 

I am also not insensitive to the recent bad news when the British Competition Appellate Tribunal granted relief earlier this month to Groupe Eurotunnel, which had been hit with an antitrust ruling stopping it from also operating its MyFerryLink ferries between Calais and Dover. You got a ruling knocking them out of your ports for a while. Good for you! But the ruling was overturned which brings stiffer competition to P&O.

But the stiffest challenge you face is growing protests that your company treated the parents of ferry passenger Richard Fearnside shabbily after he disappeared from the Pride of Kent earlier this year. I was disturbed to read that your ferry lacked any closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) on its exterior passenger decks. Money's tight I know, but no CCTV? And I was even more disturbed and angered when Richard's mother, Marianne Fearnside, raised this issue of why-no-CCTV cameras in this day and age in a letter to you. You kicked the letter downstairs to your PR fellow Chris Laming, who rudely rebuffed her and, incredibly, dismissed her proposal as "not practical."

You may recall that this dismissive attitude has plagued P&O in the past. Over 190 passengers and crew were killed in 1987 when the ferry line considered it was not practical to install CCTV cameras or alarms to determine whether the Herald of Free Enterprise bow doors were closed. The ferry capsized after a crew member responsible for closing the doors was exhausted and fell asleep (a problem which continues today). I know you were not with P&O / Townsend Thoresen back then, but as a well educated professional I am sure you are more Richard Fearnside - Marianne Fearnsidefamiliar with this disaster than I. You understand that when you forget history, it repeats itself. 

I wonder what you think of Marianne Fearnside. I really do. You're a mother of two boys, now men. You must love your children deeply. You must have thought, at least once, what if one of my boys disappeared from one of my ferries at sea, at night, into the dark and cold water, alone. How would I feel?  What would I do? You must have thought of these things, right?

I can tell you what I, as a father of two boys, think of Marianne. Unlike prior P&O victims understandably crippled by the loss of loved ones, Marianne Fearnside is a brave soul and a tough lady. She will not let her son's voice fade away. It's not easy, but she has taken her heart-felt campaign to improve safety on P&O ferries to the public. Initially dumbfounded and paralyzed, she has been vocal and full of action of late. She has found an audience and her cause has resonated with the public. Over 85,000 people have signed her petition to require P&O to install CCTV on its ferries. (This is a modest request considering that cruise ships based in the U.S. not only have hundreds of CCTV cameras but are required by U.S. law to install state-of-the-art automatic man overboard systems).         

It's only a matter of time before a major newspaper in the U.K. digs into this appalling story and P&O's tattered image is further sullied. No one wants to see a home-town U.K. company take such a hit. You have hard working staff who deserve better than go down with a ship sinking in the eyes of the public. But even former P&O ferry workers have signed Marianne's petition and proclaimed to the public that it is unreasonable and irresponsible for P&O to refuse to install CCTV. They are saying George Smith - Royal Caribbeanwhat many of your tired staff are probably thinking.

Let me quickly tell you a few lessons from cruise CEO's here in Miami, the cruise capital of the world, who have failed miserably handling public relations disasters. There are lessons to be learned.  

Cruise passenger George Smith disappeared in 2005 during his honeymoon cruise. When a passenger photographed a blood soaked awning on the ship, the story went viral. Royal Caribbean fought a war on the cable news for a year claiming that Mr. Smith was drunk and it could not have prevented his death. The cruise ship had no CCTV cameras or overboard systems. We represented Mr. Smith's widow and appeared on FOX News, MSNBC, CNN and the major networks bickering with the cruise line's PR representatives, safety managers and even the Chairman Richard Fain on Larry King Live. A Congressional hearing was convened about cruise passenger safety, followed by six other Congressional hearings in the House and Senate which continue today. It turned out that Mr. Smith didn't just fall overboard as the cruise line said. He was likely thrown overboard by other Royal Caribbean passengers. The cruise lines were subsequently ordered not only to install CCTV cameras but automatic man overboard systems on all of their cruise ships, but not before the Miami-based cruise lines tarnished their image. 

Another lesson comes from the debacle of Carnival CEO Micky Arison who, by all accounts, acted callously after the Carnival owned Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy and killed 32 passengers and crew and terrorized thousands. He was roundly criticized for his apparent indifference Costa Concordia to the disaster involving one of his over 100 cruise ships. But he didn't seem to care. He continued to focus just on profits and losses (and his Miami Heat basketball team) and not the human suffering created by his irresponsible captain. As additional Carnival disasters and embarrassments (like the infamous Carnival poop cruise) unfolded, Arison stayed indifferent to the plight of his suffering cruise line guests. His once proud and popular cruise company became the laughing stock of late night comedians. When the Carnival earnings and stock flattened out, his board removed him as CEO. The new CEO has spent hundreds of million of dollars in safety improvements to the ships in the neglected fleet. 

How will you respond to the PR nightmare facing your company?  The P&O website is filled with thousands of well reasoned and succinctly written criticisms about the line's perceived insensitivity and lack of ethics. Continuing to slough the matter off to your PR team will only make matters worse.

Now one other cruise CEO story to tell. Here's a hint how to turn things around.

When the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Sea caught on fire earlier this year, the passengers faced a raging 2 hour fire after the automatic fire suppression system failed to operate. Royal Caribbean faced a major PR problem, especially coming on the heels of other well publicized Carnival mishaps. But unlike Carnival's CEO Arison, Royal Caribbean's CEO Adam Goldstein jumped on a jet to the Adam Goldstein Cruise Fire Bahamas where he quickly met up with the burned ship. I'm not a fan of Mr. Goldstein, but this time he was a man of action with the right attitude.  He was photographed inspecting the scene of the fire and discussing the fire while drinking iced tea with the passengers. He apologized profusely and promised improvements to his ships. The public quickly forgave the cruise line for the fire, and praised the cruise CEO for his quick action, transparency and concern for his guests.

The press is coming after you Ms. Deeble. The public outrage is growing. The nation is learning that other passengers and crew have disappeared off your ships. The time for mysteries is over. The Fearnside petition will shortly have over 100,000 signatures. Legislation requiring CCTV is inevitable.

How are you going to respond. Will you even respond?

My suggestion?   

You are the past President of the U.K. Chamber of Shipping. You're highly respected and influential in your industry. Others will follow your lead. 

Its time to get out from behind the desk. Put your financial papers aside for a moment. Drive the short distance over to Marianne's house. You both live in Kent. Invite yourself in for a cup of tea. No lawyers, just you and Marianne. Make a New Year's promise to her to install CCTV on your ferries. Future passengers and your own crew deserve it. And bring your photographers too. The public will love the image of you doing the right thing, and saving your company in the process. 

Respectfully,

Jim Walker

P&O Ferries No-CCTV Camera Controversy: Expect a Long Fight

Following intense public pressure brought by Richard Fearnside's mother Marianne, P&O Ferries has posted comments on its Facebook page stating that it will be discussing the use of CCTV cameras with the "wider shipping community" and will be raising this issue with the "UK and European Maritime safety authorities."   

Don't believe it. This is a stall tactic.  P&O Ferries can install CCTV anytime it wants. It doesn't need to discuss this with rival ferry companies or obtain permission from any governmental authority.

I have attended over a half-dozen U.S. Congressional hearings over the past 8 years which have addressed over-board passengers from the U.S. based cruise lines. Cruise lines don't like to be told what to do. They resist man over-board systems at every turn. They drag their feet. They say anything and everything to delay. I've seen every cruise line trick in the book. The cruise lines first say "It's not practical."  When they lose that fight, they change their tune: "No new laws are necessary because we will voluntarily agree to install man over-board systems," but they don't. After the lies are revealed and legislation is passed, the cruise lines will try and change the law. When that doesn't work, the cruise lines don't comply with the law.

If the U.K. ferries are like the U.S. cruise lines, expect a long fight.

Today, I received a mocking tweet on Twitter from a self-proclaimed U.K. ferry executive, Paul D. Paul WoodburyWoodbury:

"A USA 'maritime lawyer' on P&O Ferries! CCTV throughout is not a practical proposal. They're ferries not TV studios."

To me, Mr. Woodbury demonstrates the U.K. ferry business interests at their worst. Disrespectful to the dead. Arrogant. Flippant. And more interested in bottom line corporate profits than human life.

Mr. Woodbury's resume indicates that he worked for P&O Ferries for four years and "played a key role in safety management."   

This is the ferry lines' mind set. Be prepared for it. They don't care about you or your family.  Your pain and sorrow have no place on their profit & loss statements. They want it done as cheaply as possible. They are shameless. And they won't do the right thing until you force them to.

 

Leave a comment on our Facebook page if you have a thought to share.

Is this of interest? Read our other articles about the P&O Ferries - Richard Fearnside CCTV debacle:

Have you signed the petition yet? I did, so should you.

 

Photo Credit: P&O Ferries (top); LinkedIn (bottom).

P&O Ferries Crisis Manager Is No Stranger to Ferry Disasters

P&O Ferries spokesperson and crisis manager Chris Laming is at the epicenter of the public relations disaster following the disappearance of ferry passenger Richard Fearnside.       

After 31 year-old Richard went missing from the P&O Pride of Kent, his mother Marianne Fearnside wrote to P&O Ferries to ask what happened to her son and to complain that the ferry company did not have closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras on its ships.  The chief executive officer of the ferry company tasked Mr. Laming with writing a letter back to the grieving mother.  

In a time of crisis a cruise line's reputation, and its relationship with the families of killed or missing passengers, P&O Ferries Chris Lamingare often formed not by the circumstances which caused the crisis but by the company's attitude, appearance, and action afterwords. 

I call this the "three A's" of cruise line crisis management: attitude, appearance & action. When disaster strikes and passengers are killed or disappear during a vacation cruise, the public has a remarkable capacity to forgive the company involved - provided it takes a few basic steps not to make matters worse.  

In practical terms, people understand that accidents are inevitable. "Sh*t happens," the saying goes. An individual or company can be forgiven if they demonstrate a humble and respectful attitude; they appear on the scene and appear to take stock of the problems they caused; and they take prompt action to prevent others from suffering a similar fate. 

Sounds easy, doesn't it? But most cruise lines and ferry operators don't seem to have a clue what to do in a time of crisis. Many companies do the opposite of what they should do. They demonstrate an obnoxious attitude. They try and disappear from public scrutiny and disavow responsibility. They act defensively and take no steps to prevent the event from occurring again.

Bad or malicious PR can infuriate families of the victims and cause them to dedicate their lives to requiring cruise lines and ferry companies to act responsibly. 

I'm not sure what P&O crisis manager Chris Laming was thinking when he wrote back to Richard's mother. His letter consisted of just seven sentences. You'd think that a PR professional for ferry companies for 27 years could string together a few sincere sounding pleasantries to acknowledge the grief of a mother who lost her child, together with choice action phrases suggesting that the company would be conducting a full investigation with an eye toward learning lessons from the mishap and possibly implementing safety improvements to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

Just two weeks ago, I complemented P&O Ferries who did the right thing when it transported a morbidly obese young man from Dover to Calais by ferry. Cunard and British Airways had refused him passage from the U.S. because of his weight (500 lbs). Virgin Airways flew him to the U.K. and then P&O helped him reach France where he lives. Mr. Laming had issued a very compassionate statement on P&O's behalf: "It's difficult to imagine the frustration that this gentleman has gone through. But for us, it's very straightforward as we are set up to carry people who have medical needs."  

P&O's letter to Mrs. Fearnside, however, contained no hint of compassion or sympathy and no illusion that the company would be taking the matter seriously with an eye toward remedial action. There was nothing sounding like "please-accept-our-sincerest-condolences-for-the-loss-of-your-son" type of thing. P&O's attitude (the first "A" in crisis management) was all wrong. The letter contained nothing polite, conciliatory or respectful. 

But the last couple of sentences were worse. Mr. Laming wrote:

"It would not be physically possible to cover all of the open deck spaces with CCTV, or monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or make and retain recordings in perpetuity."

He concluded his letter stating ". . . we do not consider that anything more could have been done in the circumstances." 

Later, when local newspapers in the U.K. began to cover the story, Mr. Laming explained why P&O refused to consider installing CCTV cameras on open passenger decks to prevent and assist in responding to man overboard situations:

"It is so rare. It is just not practical to consider doing this."   

I have seen many PR managers at cruise lines make these type of statements to try and get out of a tight spot. "We have carried millions of passengers and nothing like this has ever happened before. We are the safest way to travel. Overboard passengers are ultra-rare. Our ships are safe. We are going to continue to sail without any changes." And so forth and so on.

Statements like this are usually false. (P&O has a history of unexplained man overboard cases). Plus these type of statements eventually make the cruise or ferry company look like they are hiding something. The "it's rare" defense just invites people, like me, to begin to investigate how many times similar incidents have in fact occurred. Invariably, the public learns that man overboards are hardly rare and occur with alarming frequency. The end result is that the ferry companies lose credibility and invite public scorn.          

Mr. Laming has defended ferry companies in the court of public opinion before. According to his resume poster on LinkedIn, a year after he became the public relation officer for Townsend Thoresen / P&O European Ferries in 1986, the ferry line experienced one of the worse public relation disasters imaginable.

In 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise was sailing a route between Dover and Zeebrugge in Belgium. Herald of Free Enterprises DisasterThe ferry carried 459 passengers, 80 crew members, 81 cars, 3 buses and 47 trucks. Within minutes after leaving its berth in Zeebrugge's harbor, the ferry began taking on massive amounts of water. The ship began to list. It lost all power and electricity, leaving the passengers in darkness. The ferry then capsized. 193 people died due to drowning or hypothermia in the icy cold waters.

Mr. Laming responded to the disaster on the cruise line's behalf. He told newspaper reporters words to the effect that the ship was safe and this was just an isolated, freak accident. He was quoted in a London newspaper article entitled "Disaster Cause Unknown" saying that the ferry company's fleet of three ships of this class had carried "millions and millions of people without any mishap . . . Our ships will continue in service, and this, as far as we are concerned, was a tragic, one-oft incident."  

But the ferry line knew exactly what had happened and also knew that at least one similar incident had happened before. A subsequent public inquiry revealed that the ship's giant bow doors (which open to permit trucks and cars to drive on ramps into the ship) had been negligently left open when the ferry left the port in Belgium. Incredibly, an assistant boatswain responsible for closing the doors had fallen asleep in his cabin. A ship officer, who duty was to stay on deck to make sure that the bow doors were closed, left his post.  Another boatswain who was the last person on the car deck, testified that he did not close the doors because it was not his job. The captain did not verify that the doors were closed. There were no alarms in place to signal that the doors were open. The ferry line thought that it was frivolous to spend money on equipment to indicate if employees had failed to do their job correctly. 

The official investigation also revealed that the ferry line suffered from a "disease of sloppiness" and "negligence at every level of the corporation's hierarchy." The investigation showed a major problem with the ferry ship itself. The ship did not have any watertight compartments; any flooding would allow water to flow the length of the ship. This was revealed in a similar prior incident when in 1983, the ferry's sister ship Pride of Free Enterprise had sailed from Dover to Zeebrugge with the bow doors open. Its assistant boatswain also fell asleep in that incident as well.  You can read the official report of the disaster here

Survivors of the disaster are still grieving and traumatized today

The disaster lead to substantial changes in the rules and regulations pertaining to ferries of this type.

What Mr. Laming told reporters about the Herald of Free Enterprises two and one-half decades ago was the opposite of the truth. There were deadly design flaws in the ferry; there had been prior problems with a boatswain asleep on the job and sailing with open doors; and there had been at least one essentially identical problem with a sister ship sailing between Dover and Zeebrugge.

So here we are 26 years later. The ferry line's crisis manager is telling essentially the same PR story to the public. Don't worry. We're safe. There's nothing wrong with our ships. Passenger overboards are "so rare." Its "not practical" to invest in CCTV equipment for safety reasons, he says.

But PR statements like this won't work if the public has a healthy dose of skepticism and takes a hard look at a company's actual safety record. How many other passengers will be lost at sea because P&O thinks its frivolous to invest in CCTV cameras and automatic man overboard alarms?

 

Follow the story on Ms. Fearnside's Facebook page.  After receiving P&O's letter, she started a petition to require ferry operators like P&O Ferries to install CCTV cameras. Over 80,000 have signed the petition so far. Click here and sign the petition.   Also please leave a comment if you have a thought about this issue or join the discussion on our Facebbok page

Photo Credits:

Photo Top: P&O Ferries' Chris Laming - LinkedIn

Photo Bottom: Herald Of Free Enterprises - BBC 

P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesperson Chris Laming recently responded to the disappearance of passenger Richard Fearnside.

He stated that P&O Ferries refuses to consider installing CCTV cameras on the Pride of Kent ferry.

He told a newspaper in Kent, U.K.:

"It is so rare. It is just not practical to consider doing this."

That's cruel, and it's hardly true.P&O Ferries - Passenger Missing - Teresa Cowley

Last December, a 43 year-old mother of twin girls disappeared from another P&O Ferries ship, the Pride of Rotterdam. Teresa Cowley (right) fell overboard following a night of drinking on board the P&O ferry as it sailed from Hull to Rotterdam in the early hours of December 31, 2012. 

The sale of alcohol is a major money maker for cruise lines and ferry operators. Excessive alcohol sales increase the likelihood of passengers going overboard and require effective safety protocols and systems.

The Daily Mail in the U.K. covered the story in an article: "British Mother of Twin Girls Feared Drowned After Flling Off Ferry During Night Drinking With Husband On Holland-Bound Ship."  

The newspaper article states that an after-the-fact review of "CCTV cameras on board the ship show Teresa staggering alone on deck shortly after 1 AM." But like Richard Fearnside's case, there was no CCTV showing the passenger going overboard, and apparently the P&O ship had no automatic overboard system signalling the bridge of the emergency. 

Five months later, Mr. Fearnside also disappeared. Two overboard, dead P&O passengers in just 5 months. Are man-overboard cases really "so rare" as P&O claims?

In August of this year, a passenger went overboard from the P&O Pride of Burgandy.

In January 2011, P&O Ferries notified the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency of a passenger missing from the P&O European Highlander ferry sailing from Larne to Cairnryan. The newspaper stated this was "standard procedure" when people go overboard from a P&O ferry. "A major air and sea search" was launched due to the emergency. Again, there were no CCTV images of the apparent overboard nor any type of automatic man overboard system on the ship. Eventually the expensive search & rescue operation was called off after the ferry company couldn't determine whether the passenger went overboard or was simply unaccounted for.

A similar incident occurred in 2006 aboard the Pride of Kent when P&O Ferries alerted authorities of the disappearance of a young couple leading to an early morning, 7 hour, international air and sea search involving four lifeboats, a rescue tug, two French helicopters and one coastguard search plane.  After this massive and expensive undertaking, it turns out that the two passengers has disembarked the ferry and were located in Belgium. All of this could have been avoided by the installation of CCTV and overboard systems.

The absence of safety systems presents a danger for crew members as well as passengers. In 2008, a crew member aboard the P&O ferry Pride of Rotterdam disappeared 20 miles out at sea. Seven lifeboats and two search and rescue helicopters subsequently tried to find the man; however, a Royal Navy spokesperson told the BBC that the water was "very cold" and the man's chances of survival were considered "very slim."

For U.S. based cruise lines, the use of CCTV cameras is standard operating procedure. As I mentioned in a previous article, cruise lines like Norwegian Cruise Line have over 1,000 CCTV cameras in operation on a single ship. Some cruise ships, although not many, have state-of-the art automatic man overboard systems. But the U.K.'s P&O Ferries appears to be decades behind in terms of basic safety and security systems.

CCTV systems play an important part of a vessel's safety and security system. A CCTV system with automatic alarms is essential to the timely search and rescue of passengers going overboard. Contrary to what many think, overboard passengers can be saved if the bridge is notified promptly of the emergency. A passenger who fell off of the P&O Express ferry was rescued in 2009 because other passengers immediately notified the ship's crew. Another passenger from the P&O ferry Pride of Calais was promptly rescued in 2010.  Similar success was not obtained when a passenger went overboard from the P&O ferry, the Pride of Burgundy, in October 2010.

But many overboards occur in the dark late at night when no other passengers are around which make the need for CCTV systems even more important. A sound vessel safety program should integrate state-of-the-art technologies and not rely on the customers to report emergencies when things go wrong.

You can see a successful rescue of a passenger from a different ferry company here. The woman reportedly fell from an upper deck after trying to light her cigarette.

CCTV is also effective in monitoring whether criminals or terrorists come onto a ship or whether Pride of Rotterdamcustomers go off the ship due to foul play or preventable accidents. They act as a deterrent to crime and have a wide range of safety applications. They can assist the operators in determining whether the passengers are in a state of intoxication which often leads to horse-play and accidents.  

In April last year, around 200 students in an intoxicated rampage from Manchester trashed a P&O ferry sailing from Dover to Calais ferry and frightened fellow passengers. CCTV cameras would have been effective in documenting the unsafe and reckless behavior and aiding in the prosecution of those involved in the drunken shipboard brawl.

There's no justification for not installing CCTV cameras on a commercial passenger ship. The costs are inexpensive and the cargo is precious. 

 

Have a thought? Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Call for help: The Fearnside family has started a campaign to require ferry operators to install CCTV cameras on their vessels.  Please click here and sign the petition.

Photo Credit: Newsteam via Daily Mail

P&O Ferries Refuses to Install CCTV or Man Overboard Systems after Passenger Disappears

The parents of a 30 year-old passenger who disappeared from a ferry sailing between Calais and Dover are petitioning for legislation requiring ships to install closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras.

Richard Fearnside, son of Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.), disappeared from the Pride of Kent ferry last May. He was last seen going to an exterior deck to smoke a cigarette. An alarm was not raised until the ship docked at Dover at the end of the cruise when his girlfriend could not locate him.

Richard Fearnside - Missing - Pride of KentThe delayed search and rescue efforts, conducted by ships and helicopters, were unsuccessful.

Richard's mother was quoted in a local newspaper stating "we don't know whether Richard slipped, fell, jumped or was pushed - we have no idea what happened to our son. He just vanished."

The ferry company, P&O Ferries, has been indifferent to the family's plight.

Mr. and Ms. Fearnside corresponded with P&O Ferries asking it to install cameras on passenger decks, but the ferry line rebuffed them. 

P&O Ferries crisis management spokesman Chris Laming wrote back to the Fearnsides claiming that it would be impossible for the ferry company to:

  • "Cover all of the open spaces with CCTV, 
  • Monitor such cameras 24 hours a day, or
  • Make and retain such recordings in perpetuity."

As anyone with a minimum understanding of the affordable technology readily available to the maritime community knows, these statements made on P&O Ferries behalf are patently false and misleading. It is easy to position CCTV cameras to cover all of the public areas, especially in small ferry boats like this. Reputable operators retain the electronic data for 30 days and automatic sensors do not require the cameras to be manned 24 hours. 

We have attended over a half-dozen U.S. Congressional hearings about cruise ship safety. There has been extensive debate about the need for CCTV cameras covering the public areas of cruise ships and automatic man-overboard systems to alert the bridge that a person has gone overboard from the ship. 

Automatic man-overboard systems exist and are easily installed. It is preposterous to suggest that it is not possible to cover all of the public spaces with CCTV cameras and man-overboard technology. Small ferries have limited open decks and no private balconies (see photo below). Watch this recent video which includes a former Coast Guard engineer who designed such systems.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for examples, has installed literally over a 1,000 cameras on its newest cruise ships. It can track every single inch of its cruise ships.

The only reason that a cruise line or ferry operator would refuse to install such systems is that they do not want to spend the money. They prefer profits over safety. Ironically, companies like P&O Ferries install cameras in their liquor and duty free shops to deter theft (cruise lines always install cameras in casinos to protect their money); however, they will take no steps to use cameras in other public spaces to deter sexual assaults and violence against passengers.

Protecting booze bottles and casino chips seems more important than protecting people on the high seas.

The result of such irresponsibility and greed is delayed rescue attempts of passengers and crew members who go overboard. Just like in Mr. Fearnside's case, the Coast Guard is typically called in late.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer's money is spent to search unnecessarily wide areas of the sea looking for the overboard person. It's like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Maritime operators like P&O Ferries would prefer taxpayers foot the bill rather than spending its own money on CCTV cameras and automatic overboard systems to protect its passengers and crew in the first place.

Cruise Expert Professor Ross Klein has documented 208 persons overboard from cruise ships and ferries since 2000.

The Fearnsides are doing something about this problem. They have started a campaign to require these irresponsible cruise and ferry operators to install CCTV cameras. BBC recently discussed the family's efforts to protect the public. Click on the link here and consider signing the petition.  

Also, please join our discussion on our Facebook page.  Please share the information with your friends and ask them to support the petition.

February 29 2013 Update: Think that cases of overboard passengers from ferries are rare? Hardly. read: P&O Ferries Plagued By Overboard Passengers & No Safety Systems

Photo credit (bottom): Wikipedia / Fabian318

Superfast Ferry Collides with Mein Schiff 2 in Italy - Minor Damage Reported

Newspapers in Italy are reporting that a collision took place in the port of Bari (Puglia) in the southest of Italy when a Superfast ferry struck the Mein Schiff 2 cruise ship.

Corriere del Mezzogiorne and La Reppublica (Bari) report that high winds up to 40 knows caused the ferry to break her mooring lines and drift into the Mein Schiff 2 cruise ship operated by the German cruise Line TUI Cruises. The bulbous bow of the ferry then penetrated the starboard side of the cruise ship. 

There were no reported injuries of the passengers or the crew of the two vessels.

Inspections were conducted regarding the extent of the damage to determine whether the cruise ship will resume immediate operations.

Another ferry, the Ionis, also slipped its moorings, but the crew deployed the anchor to avoid collision with other vessels.

September 17 2013 Update: Passengers sent us some photos of the damage to the cruise ship which you can see on out Facebook page here

Mein Schiff 2 Collision

Mein Schiff Collision

Photo Credits: The Republic (top) and Corriere del Mezzogiorno (V. Archers) (bottom)

 

22 Year-Old Passenger Disappears From Hjaltland Ferry

Hjaltland FerryBBC News reports that a 22-year-old ferry passenger disappeared while sailing from Lerwick to Aberdeen yesterday. The young man was aboard the MV Hjaltland and was last seem early in the morning around 4:00 A.M.

An air and sea search, after the passenger was not located on the ship, was initiated but was unsuccessful. 

BBC News states that Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Aberdeen lifeboats were called out, and were assisted by a Sea King helicopter from RAF Lossiemouth, and two commercial vessels

The Hjaltland  retraced its route back up the coast, but was not successful in locating the passenger.

Aberdeen Coastguard, which was coordinating the operation, said given the sailing time which elapsed between the last sighting of the passenger and the deploying of lifeboats, the search area was extensive and time-consuming. 

Unfortunately this is another case where the vessel failed to have a state-of-the-art man overboard detection system. 

 

Photo Credit: thesun.co.uk

Overboard Ferry Passenger Rescued in Puget Sound

A number of news sources are reporting that a woman who apparently jumped from a Seattle-based ferry yesterday into Puget Sound has been rescued by the Coast Guard. 

The M/V Wenatchee was reportedly crossing from Bainbridge Island to Seattle's Colman Dock when the women went overboard. A witness who observed the woman in the water alerted the vessel's crew and two rescue boats were dispatched.

The Coast Guard said that they were notified of the incident around 1:45 P.M. yesterday. 

Two other ferries, the Tacoma and the Kitsap, were summoned to assist in the search.

A Coast Guard vessel rescued the woman about 40 minutes after the Coast Guard was notified. The woman, who was in her 40's, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in stable condition.Wenatchee 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / S.S. Sol Duc

Thomas Aquinas Ferry Collides with MV Sulpicio Express Cargo Ship: Hundreds of Passengers Missing

A maritime disaster is unfolding in the Philippines after the passenger ferry MV Thomas Aquinas sank after colliding with a large cargo ship, the MV Sulpicio Express, near the port of Cebu. 

The ferry was carrying 752 passengers, including children and infants, and 118 crew members. 

More than 200 people are missing after passengers were forced to jump into the water. Some managed to get into life rafts but many others were trapped into the ferry as it sank. Divers are combing through the sunken ferry, which rests at around 100 feet underwater, to retrieve the bodies of the missing. 629 people were rescued.

BBC News reports that maritime accidents are common in the Philippine waters because of badly maintained passenger vessels and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

The world's worst maritime disaster occurred in the Philippines in December 1987 when more than 4,000 people died after the Dona Paz ferry collided with a tanker and sank.

Photo Credit: Reuters (top) / Reuters (bottom)

Sulpicio Express - Thomas Aquinas Collision

Thomas Aquinas - Sulpicio Express

Bimini SuperFast Cruise Ship Stuck at the Dock

A new "super-fast" cruise ferry service between Miami and Bimini, the Bahamas started off on the wrong foot when the ship flunked U.S. Coast Guard requirements. The Resorts World's Bimini SuperFast was suppose to sail passengers from Miami over to a new gambling resort in Bimini.

On June 28th the wife of the Bahamian Prime Minister christened the vessel at the Port of Miami with the words: "I name this ship Bimini Superfast and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

But 2 days later, according to the Miami Herald, the ship and its operators failed tests gauging performance in emergency situations. The crew was unable to adequately conduct emergency drills and evacuate passengers off the ship and in lifeboats within 30 minutes. The ship failed to have emergency sources of power and the mechanism that allows lifeboats to drop from the ship malfunctioned.  

A Coast Guard spokesperson said that there was an “overall lack of proficiency by the crew to respond to an emergency situation.” 

Bimini SuperFast received safety inspections overseas after it was built in 2001 including a certificate from Panama to carry passengers.  But for now the Coast Guard has shut the ship down at the Port of Miami awaiting re-inspection.

 

 

Happy Ending to Man Overboard: Passenger Rescued After Seven Hours in Baltic Sea

Finally, a man overboard situation with a happy ending. 

A newspaper in Sweden, the Local, reports the good news that a 36-year-old passenger survived seven hours in the Baltic Sea on Friday night after falling from a ferry bound to Stockholm. The newspaper's account was based on a report in a Swedish daily newspaper, the Ålandstidning Daily.

The passenger fell from the Baltic Queen ferry near the Finnish island of Åland, but the ferry did not notice that he was missing until the vessel docked in Stockholm on Saturday morning. There was Baltic Queen Passenger Overboardno explanation or speculation how the man went into the water.

The newspaper reports that the water temperature in the Baltic Sea was 60 - 64 F and there was initially little hope that the man had survived. However, Finnish sea rescue located the man two hours later, four kilometers from the closest island.

The passenger was found suffering from hypothermia with a body temperature of only 79 F. According to medical expertise he should have been unconscious by then and would have been in cardiac arrest had his body temperature dropped a further degree.

The man had no life jacket and had few clothes as he had shed them in a bid to remain afloat in the bracing waters.

The man is reported to be 36-years-old and originates from Estonia.

I'm sure he's saying his prayers tonight.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Pjotr Mahhonin

Ferry Slams Into Pier in NYC: Over 50 People Injured

A commuter ferry slammed into a dock in lower Manhattan this morning during rush hour, injuring more than 50 people commuting into New York City. Newspapers report that at least two of the ferry passengers were critically injured.

CBS News states that the accident involved the Seastreak Wall Street. The New York Times states that the ferry is operated by Sea Streak Ferry, and provides daily service from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan. It can accommodate several hundred passengers. There were over 300 SeaStreak Wall Street Ferry Crash in Manhatten passengers aboard at the time of the accident.

At the time of the impact the ferry was proceeding at a high rate of speed (with one passenger estimating around 60 MPH) when it violently struck the pier. Scores of people who had been standing up and waiting to disembark were hurled to the deck, into poles and walls, and down stairs. 

Some people described the accident like a big car crash.

57 people were reportedly injured according to the New York Times which showed dramatic photographs of passengers lying on flatboards with their heads and necks immobilized.

The Times mentions compares this incident to the October 15, 2003, accident when a Staten Island Ferry hit a maintenance pier at full speed, killing 11 and injuring 70 people.  A pilot, who had been incapacitated at the time of the crash, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The investigators also faulted training and enforcement of safety rules. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating and gathering information about this latest incident. 

You can review the Seastreak's website here and its twitter page here.  One of the last tweets on Seastreaks page is by New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg "Thanks to @SeaStreakNJNYC  . . . residents of the #Rockaways have an affordable & reliable way to get to #Manhattan."

Photographs of the scene in lower Manhattan look like a war zone:

Seastreak Wall Street Crash

Photo credit: Mark Lennihan / AP via New York Times.   

Fire Breaks Out On Cruise Ferry Near Greece

Kriti II Ferry FireA fire erupted on an Anek Lines cruise ferry (ro-ro) off the coast of Greece earlier this week.

On November 19th, a blaze started on the car deck of the Kriti II (built 1979) while the ferry approached Patras after sailing from Venice, Italy. 

There were around 113 passengers on board, plus a crew of 87.  

The vessel was brought into port with black smoke billowing from it, with cars and trucks aboard the vessel catching fire. No casualties or injures were reported. 

VesselTracker.com states that the ferry "suffered severe damage to its interior. The fire had been slowly burning already hours before the ship reached the port of Patras and it was purely a matter of luck that the open fire did not emerge on open sea where winds had been blowing . . . "

The video shows firefighters trying to extinguish vehicles which were driven out of the ferry on fire.

Photo credit: Turkey SeaNews.

 

Man Overboard From Cruise Ferry Nordlandia Rescued

ERR News reports that a man was rescued from frigid waters in Finland after being spotted falling from Eckerö Line's cruise ferry Nordlandia which sails between Helsinki and Tallinn.

Two witnesses observed a man fall into the Gulf of Finland. A sea rescue mission involving two ships and a rescue helicopter was launched. After 45 minutes, the helicopter located the man and delivered him on board. The man was resuscitated and transported to a local hospital.

Nordlandia Cruise Ferry

Photo credit: Wikimedia / Bin im Garten

High Winds Damage French Ferry Napoleon Bonaparte

Cruise industry expert Professor Ross Klein's website, Cruise Junkie, mentions an incident this last Sunday involving a passenger ferry in France.

High winds broke a dozen mooring lines to the Napoleon Bonaparte, a passenger and vessel ferry. The impact with the pier ripped a 30-metre long hole in the stern, causing water to flood compartments below the waterline.  The vessel is listing at port in Marseille. 

The Daily Mail in the U.K. has the full account and a number of photographs of the stricken vessel.

Napoleon Bonaparte - Passenger Ferry

Photo credit: EPA via Daily Mail

LPG Tanker - Ferry Collision Leaves 8 Passengers Dead

Bahuga Jaya SinkingEight passengers from the cruise ferry Bahuga Jaya are reported dead after a collision in Indonesian waters.

The LPG tanker Norgas Cathinka struck and sank the Bahuga Jaya, which is a Ro-Ro passenger cruise ferry vessel, near the port of Merak, Indonesia. 

The accident took place on Wednesday. Eight passengers on the cruise ferry were initially reported missing. Seven bodies were located and one passenger was found still alive but later died in the hospital.

The large LPG tanker is operated by IM Skaugen Group member Norgas Carriers Pte Ltd of Singapore.

September 29, 2012 Update: Vessl Tracker has this information:

"30 people were still missing on Sep 28, two days after the sinking of the 2Jaya Bugha" with more than two hundred people on board off Sumatra. Eight bodies have been recovered so far, while 207 people have been rescued. The number of passengers and crew was not accurately known. 30 people were reported missing by relatives. The possibility that they survived was very low. The ferry was carrying about 78 vehicles in which passengers might have remained trapped."

 

 

Photo credit: Harian Terbit

Explosion and Fire Temporarily Disable Cruise Ferry Stena Saga

Stena Saga - Cruise Ship - Ferry Norwegian Broadcasting reports that the cruise-ferry Stena Saga, which operates between Oslo and Fredrikshavn in Denmark, was hit by an explosion in its engine room over the Easter weekend.  The explosion sparked a fire. 

A newspaper in Norway reports that "alarmed residents south of Drøbak called emergency services when they saw smoke billowing from the ship and noted that it was off course in the sound leading into the inner Oslo Fjord."

A Stena Line spokesman confirmed that the explosion created a lot of smoke but claimed it was contained by the vessel’s sprinkling system in the engine room.  The vessel drifted for a brief period but was able to continue sailing towards Oslo, where it arrived around 30 minutes late.

1,392 passengers and a crew of 180 were on on board at the time of the explosion and fire, although no evacuation took place.

A cruise line spokesperson stated that the incident involved a "minor" explosion which caused "no major damage."  The vessel was cleared to sail back to Denmark Saturday night.

If you were on the ferry and have information, photos or video to share, please leave a comment below. 

Passenger Missing From Condor Rapide Fast Ferry

Numerous news sources in the UK are reporting that a passenger is missing overboard from a high speed ferry this afternoon in England. 

The passenger was aboard the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry, which was en route from Guernsey to Poole in Dorset. The ferry's crew raised the alarm at 5.35 PM, British time.

The Guardian newspaper reports that British and French coastguard, as well as lifeboats from Weymouth and Alderney and a search plane from the Channel Islands, are searching the route of the Condor Rapide Fast Ferry - Passenger Overboardferry to find the missing passenger, according to the HM Coastguard.

A spokesman for Condor Ferries said: "At 5.35pm today crew were made aware of a possible missing person situation onboard Condor Rapide.

"The captain raised a Pan Pan with the coastguard and a full search was conducted of the vessel.

"The passenger was unable to be found and the Pan Pan was upgraded to a Mayday."

Other newspaper are reporting that several helicopters are also involved in the search.

The passenger is a woman.  Her name has not been released.

 

Photo credit:  Condor Rapide Fast Ferry via Guardian

Over 1200 Passengers Rescued from Burning Ferry in the Red Sea, One Dead & Many Injured

A fire broke out yesterday aboard an Egyptian bound ferry, the Pella, in the Gulf of Aqaba, which is the northeastern tip of the Red Sea.

There were approximately 1240 passengers aboard the cruise ferry at the time of the fire.  The ferry was ten miles off of the coast of Jordan.  A number of military vessels and helicopters responded to the emergency.  There are conflicting news accounts whether the rescue operations were conducted solely by Jordan or a combination of Jordanian and Egyptian vessels.  

One passenger died.  All other passengers were rescued and various news sources are reporting between twelve and twenty-five passengers were hospitalized for smoke inhalation injuries. 

The Pella is owned by the Al-Jisr Al-Arabi company, which is described as a shipping company owned by Egyptian and Jordanian businessmen.

The AP reports that in February 2006, about 1,000 passengers, mostly Egyptian workers returning home from Saudi Arabia, died when a fire broke out on a ferry. 

Pella Fire - Egypt - Cruise Fire

Photo credit: Abraham Farajyan / EPA (via MSNBC photoblog)

For aditional information about cruise ship fires, consider reading:

Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Sinking of the M/V Spice Islander - Twitter Delivers Insight Over Mass Media Noise

This morning I was trying to find articles with real time and genuine insight into the ferry disaster off Tanzania.  

An old vessel called the Spice Islander grossly overloaded with over 1,000 passengers sank.  There have been around two hundred people pulled from the water dead and some 600 rescued.

I kept finding one detached articles after another from the mainstream press, many erroneously publishing a photograph of a ferry from the Philippines.  Finally I stumbled across an article "Tragedy Unfolds as Passenger Ferry Capsizes off Zanzibar" which was published by Storyful which aggregates content from Twitter.#Zanzibarboataccident #Zanzibar - Spice Islander - Sinking - Zanzibar

The Twitter hashtag following the disaster is #Zanzibarboataccident as well as #Zanzibar

I then began to follow @Tanganyikan who has been tweeting updates and uploading compelling photographs of children rescued from the water as well as tense families waiting for word on whether their loved ones are dead or alive.

I also ran across a tweet from @GregHuntoon "Thanks to those who've been trying to deliver the signal over the mass media's noise"  He referred to @mpoppel @Arabinizer @Rasahi as well as @Tanganyikan

@Rasahi uploaded an accurate photo of Spice Islander which looks like an old rust bucket.

Twitter has indeed delivered information and photographs over the mass media noise.  Images of children thought to be lost at sea yet held high above jubilant rescuers, some wearing wet suits. 

You won't find these type of stories and images of joy and sorrow in Reuters or the AP.

 

Survivor List

Zanzibar Outreach Program

 

Photo credit: @Tanganyikan

Overboard Cruise Passenger Rescued

Princess Seaways RescueNews sources in the U.K. are reporting on the dramatic rescue of a 23 year old passenger who fell from what is being described as a cruise ferry which was heading from England to the Netherlands. 

The incident reportedly occurred, according to the Whitley Gazette, on Monday night around 9:00 PM when the young woman trying to light a cigarette near a railing.

The ship in question is the Princess Seaways which, according to the Journal Live in the U.K., was built in 1986  and is a "large cruise ferry," subsequently renovated in 2006, with the capacity for 580 cars and can more than 1,500 passengers."  

The passenger was in the water for thirty minutes.  The ship turned around and the crew rescued her and she was evaluated by the ship doctor.  

A RAF helicopter then transported the lucky passenger back to England where she was checked for hypothermia.  The video below shows the helicopter hoisting the young woman from the deck of the ferry.  

Don't you wish that all overboards turned out like this? 

September 8, 2011 Update:  Mail Online in the U.K. has identifed the young woman as Ms. Jeni Anderson from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, who was celebrating her graduation from Northumbria University. The newspaper quotes her as being "very, very lucky."


 

 
 
Video credit:  RAF via YouTube SpecialAgent08
 
Photo credit: Mail Online

 

Over 200 Passengers Rescued From Burning Ferry in Baltic Sea

Over 200 passengers were rescued after an explosion rocked the Lithuanian passenger and car ferry, Lisco Gloria, which was on route from the German port of Kiel to Klaipeda in Lithuania. A fire then engulfed the ferry which had 236 passengers and crew on board. Over 20 people on the ferry reportedly were injured.  Several nearby vessels rescued the passengers, many of whom were swimming in the water.

 

 

 

Video Credit:  Reuters