The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it is searching for a passenger, from the MSC Divina cruise ship, who is suspected of going overboard early this morning in waters north of Puerto Rico.
According to the Coast Guard, a French citizen, Jeon Pierre Knorr, age 74, reportedly was "last seen by his wife at approximately 3 a.m. going out to the couple's room balcony to take some fresh air." The Coast Guard says that the "circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the passenger remain unknown."
Based on the Coast Guard statement, it does not sound like the cruise ship was initially aware of the passenger going overboard. Online AIS's do not show the Divina taking part in any type of search. The Coast Guard states that MSC Divina officials notified the Coast Guard that, at some undisclosed time, they searched the ship and made call-outs through the public announcement system without success.
The Coast Guard indicates that it deployed aircraft, helicopters and a fast-response cutter to look for the man.
2017 begins with the same problem with overboards that has plagued the industry for many years. The Divina obviously was not equipped with an automatic man overboard which could be triggered with a signal to the bridge when a person crosses the rail. Such systems are now sophisticated with thermal imaging properties and radar capacities to track the person in the water at night so that the ship can initiate an immediate search and rescue operation. You can see an example here. President Obama signed automatic man overboard requirements into law in the 2012 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Law. Most cruise lines have ignored this law.
Cruise lines say that such technology is not reliable or feasible, but the technology is readily available and highly efficient.
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January 3, 2017 Update: Recent Divina Overboard Reveals Flaws in MSC Safety & Security.
Photo credit: My Ken, GFDL, commons / wikimedia.