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?

"Why Ships Sink" Tonight on NOVA / PBS at 9:00 P.M.

Tonight at 9:00 P.M. NOVA will air "Why Ships Sink" featuring the story of the recent Costa Concordia and the 100 year old story of the Titanic.

I'm in the program, interviewed at the Port of Miami. 

You can watch the online video here

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

6 Years Later: Verdict in Deadly Sinking of Sea Diamond Cruise Ship

Long before Captain Schettino smashed the Costa Concordia into the rocks off of the coast of Giglio, another captain of a passenger cruise ship slammed his vessel into the rock and sank the ship.

Six years ago, the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck a reef and eventually sank off the coast of Santoniri. Two French cruise passengers drown. 

In both cases, the captain's poor navigational skills, recklessness and negligence in efficiently evacuating the cruise ship killed passengers.

Sea Diamond SinkingAfter a long legal proceeding, a  three judge panel in Piraeus sentenced the ship's captain to 12 years and two months in jail and sanctioned him €8,000 fine.  The judges sentenced an employee of DNV (Det Norske Veritas), which deemed the cruise ship seaworthy, to eight years.

The cruise ship, owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sank on April 6 2007 after ramming  a reef near the Aegean island of Santorini with 1,195 passengers and 391 crew on board.

A French man, Jean Christophe Allain (age 45) and his daughter Maud (age 16), died. 

According to a Greek newspaper, the judges also sentenced the navigation officer (two years and 10 months), chief engineer (two years and four months), company's legal representative (two years), an inspector/auditor (15 months) and a security officer (six months and a €600 fine).

The newspaper states that it is unlikely that anyone will serve actual jail time.

The judges acquitted the ship's first engineer officer, chief officer, chief steward and the cabin manager. 

After the verdict, Louis Hellenic vowed to appeal the decisions. 

Cruise Ship Sinks in Egypt

King of the Nile Cruise Ship Sinking News sources in the Middle East are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 112 Egyptian passengers sank in the Nile River yesterday evening after striking large rocks. The Al-Ahram's news website report that the incident took place near the Egyptian cities of Kom Ombo and Aswan.

Reports are that all passengers safely disembarked the sinking vessel which is called the King of the Nile.

In November of last year, we reported on another cruise ship which caught on fire on the Nile.  77 tourists were aboard but got off safely.

You can read the article Fire Breaks Out During Cruise Down the Nile

Please contact us if you have any information or photos of this latest incident.

 

Photo credit: Ahram Arabic News Website

PBS / NOVA Cruise Special: "Why Ships Sink"

The PBS / NOVA cruise documentary "Why Ships Sink" is now available to be watched on line.  

The documentary takes a look at cruise ship safety from the time of the Titanic to the recent disaster of the Costa Concordia.  The story about the sinking of the Oceanos which was abandoned by the arrogant captain is interesting.  You would never imagine who the hero was who came to the passengers' assistance.

I am interviewed at various times on the program.

A short introduction to the program is below.   

  

Watch the entire video here.

 

 

 

 

 

Documentary: Disasters at Sea - Why Ships Sink

The U.K.'s Channel 4 broadcast a cruise documentary tonight called "Disaster at Sea:  Why Ships Sink."

"Why Ships Sink" examines the issue of passenger safety at sea since the Titanic.  A film crew came to Miami last month and interviewed me and others involved in the cruise and maritime industries.

Unfortunately, the documentary is not yet available for airing in the U.S. so please excuse the "watch now" teaser on the website. The program will air in the U.S. in two weeks.  But if you are from the U.K. you should be able to watch the program online or catch it the next time it airs on Channel 4 (Tuesday April 10, 2012 12.05AM on Channel 4). 

Channel 4's write-up of the show is below:    

Disasters at Sea - Why Ships Sink"Nowadays, huge, extravagant cruise ships tower above the ocean surfaces, boasting state-of-the art shopping malls, cinemas and tennis courts, and offering arrays of bars and restaurants.

In spite of a century of advanced design and new technology and being built by the world's greatest expert marine engineers and scientists, lessons from the past are being constantly overlooked and these ships continue to sink.

The Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage in April 1912 and was the largest, heaviest, most expensive luxurious man-made moving object on the planet, built by the world's most skilled labour force.

Regardless of this, the ship sank after striking an iceberg, with catastrophic consequences, shocking the world and prompting a thorough investigation into the dangers at sea.

One hundred years later, the world received a frightening reminder of such deadly events when luxury cruise liner the Costa Concordia suffered a similar impact.

The ship was a palace of the ocean: it had a capacity of 3780 passengers and was 290m long and 31m high. Yet in January 2012, it capsized and sunk off the Tuscan coast in one of the worst disasters in the cruise industry's history.

Disaster at Sea: Why Ships Sink examines the complex web of design and construction weaknesses, navigational and human errors, and failures in evacuation plans, which contribute to the sinking of ships and the loss of passenger lives.

The documentary examines the science behind the individual tragedies of ships and features in-depth interviews with marine engineering experts to find out whether we can prevent another devastating disaster at sea."

 

Credit: Channel 4 

 

 

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

Who's Responsible When a Cruise Ship Sinks in Antarctica?

The spectacle of the Clelia II cruise ship (photo below left) bouncing around by big waves and howling wind as it was trying to make its way back to Argentina from Antarctica continues to capture the attention of the American public this week.  The video of the stricken vessel on our Cruise Law's YouTube page has been viewed over 225,000 times in the last few days.

Unlike the images of Carnival's disabled-by-a-engine-fire Splendor cruise ship drifting peacefully off of the coast of Mexico several weeks ago, the photographs and video of the Clelia II show the violence of the Antarctic waters and provide a glimpse of the terror these cruise passengers must have been Clelia II - Antarcticaexperiencing.  Today USA Today's popular cruise blog, Cruise Log, carries the headline "Passenger on Storm-Tossed Cruise Ship Describes 'Terrifying' Ordeal."   

A Near Death Experience?

The Philadelphia Daily News reports a passenger's account of the little cruise ship "violently shaking and twisting," with winds reaching 100 mph and waves 30 to 40 feet high.  "I thought this was it," he said. "I never came so close to cashing it in."   The passenger contemplated what would happen if the ship went down: "they'd never find the bodies. You couldn't even think about putting out lifeboats in that sea."

Blame Game

Who is responsible if one of these small expedition vessels sinks in the waters of Antarctica?   The Clelia II ran into a bit of trouble a year ago when it scraped its hull on some underwater rocks.  In November 2007, another expedition cruise ship, the Explorer (photo below right), sank in Antarctica and the passengers bobbed around in lifeboats.  We discussed these events in an article earlier this year.  Fortunately, the weather and seas were calm when the Explorer sank, and all passenger and crew members escaped with their lives.  But if the  Explorer had faced rough weather or if the Clelia II needed to be evacuated earlier this week, the consequences would have been disastrous. 

Shell Game

When things go wrong in the freezing waters of Antarctica, one thing is certain - the ship operators, tour organizers, and travel companies begin to squirm.   

When the initial reports of the plight of the Clelia II began to emerge, numerous news sources reported that the cruise ship was operated by Polar Cruises of Bend Oregon, including CBS' Early Morning Show.   Polar Cruises' website represents on its web site that it vets the cruise ship and participates in the voyages and it seems (to me at least) to indicate that it controls and manages the Clelia II, all factors to be considered in determining the issue of the operation of the vessel.  Its website is silent (except for a disclaimer added two days ago) regarding the identity of the owner or operator of the cruise ships it promotes on its site.    

Polar Cruises - Not Us

When the story broke, Polar Cruises called and emailed us insisting that it did not operate the cruise ship. It left a comment on this blog indicating that it was just a "specialized travel agency" - a phrase never used on its own web site.  It identified Travel Dynamics International as the operator and a Greek company, "Helios Shipping" of Piraeus, Greece, as the vessel owner.  The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), a trade organization promoting the  Antarctica tour operators, also subsequently identified Travel Dynamics as the operator of the Clelia II

So is Travel Dynamics really responsible for the cruise?

Travel Dynamics - Read the Fine Print

Travel Dynamics' website, under "Responsibility" in its "Terms and Conditions" section, denies all responsibilities for the cruise and refers passengers to the ticket contract with the undisclosed vessel’s owner / operator which "constitutes the sole, legally enforceable terms of carriage."  Travel Dynamics identifies itself only as an agent for the passenger, not the owner or operator, for all transportation.  This is just the opposite of what IAATO is telling the public.

Grand Circle Travel - More Fine Print

In addition, a well known cruise community website and publication, Cruise Critic, indicates that the cruise ship had been chartered to another company called Grand Circle Travel.  Grand Circle also denies all responsibilities.  Its terms and conditions also refer to a separate owner and operator of the cruise ship but - like Polar Cruises and Travel Dynamics - it does not identify who explorer Sinking - Antarcticathese companies are.

Around and Around We Go

If any of the passengers aboard the Clelia II had been lost at sea, the families of the loved ones would face a hurdle to determine who was legally responsible.  Was this a suitable vessel for these waters?  Was the weather monitored responsibly?  Who actually employs the crew? 

The Greek vessel owner would undoubtedly claim that because it is a foreign corporation based in Greece, it is not subject to personal jurisdiction in the U.S.  All of the companies which promote the Clelia II and sell cruises may, like Polar Cruises, subsequently claim that they are just travel agencies - notwithstanding  far stretching representations to the contrary in their web sites. And all of the cruise defense lawyers  would  point to the legal fine print which purports to deny  responsibility and liability for everything. 

Can The Public Trust These Small Expedition Cruise Companies?

The "large cruise ship industry" (Royal Caribbean, Carnival)  has faced accusations of a lack of transparency over the years.  The problem lies in the disconnect between what the cruise industry says and what the public can readily see to be the truth.

These small cruise operators and their trade organization need to learn a lesson from the big ship owners and operators on what not to do in time of crisis like this.  

For example, yesterday Polar Cruises was scrambling to distance itself from being perceived as a cruise operator (which is problematic when you call yourself "Polar Cruises").  It wrote a blog article "Polar Cruises Mistakenly Named as Owner/Operator of Damaged Clelia II."  While trying to separate itself from the image of the floundering cruise ship, it still felt obligated to put its own spin on the incident, claiming that the damage was caused by a "rogue wave."   

What a whopper!   Millions of people have watched the terrifying video of the cruise ship being repeatedly pounded by one large wave after another.  Obviously, this was no smooth sailing where a "rogue wave" came out of nowhere. 

With questions about who was really operating the cruise, who actually employed the captain and crew, who was monitoring the weather conditions and navigating the vessel, legal mumbo-jumbo buried in fine print, and now a  "rogue wave" defense announced by a "travel agency," the small cruise companies are headed into rough waters in the ocean of public opinion.

 

Read our prior article on the Clelia II: The Clelia II Skirts Disaster Again in Antarctica

 

Photo credits:

Explorer   AP

Clelia II   Fiona Stewart/Garett McIntosh (via jonbowermaster.com)