BBC News is reporting today on the dramatic rescue of a critically ill passenger from Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.
The U.K. Coast Guard was notified by the captain of the Independence of the Seas on Saturday night that a passenger was very ill and needed to be evacuated from the cruise ship. A helicopter was dispatched from Portland, which is in southern England on the Dorset coast, 23 miles out to the cruise ship.
The BBC reports that the helicopter was too heavy for the cruise ship’s landing pad. The vessel’s crew had to lift the passenger, in her wheelchair, up and into the helicopter as it hovering above them.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman is quoted stating "in a supreme example of skill, the coastguard helicopter pilot touched the wheels of the aircraft on to the moving deck of the Independence of the Seas, keeping the rotors powered-up so that no weight was taken by the relatively fragile landing pad."
The helicopter then flew the ill woman and her husband to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.
The BBC did not comment on the nature of the cruise passenger’s critical illness.
We have received comments from crew and passengers that the Independence of the Seas has been experiencing Norovirus outbreaks for much of this year, although it is unknown what ailed this particular passenger.
The Independence of the Seas was last in the news when an oil tanker exploded while the cruise ship was docked at the port in Gibraltar.
Photo credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Fertig via Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (image is of U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter responding to a medical emergency aboard the Explorer of the Seas 230 miles east of Cape Henry Virginia on March 11, 2011.)