With the Coast Guard ending its delayed search and the 21 year old woman still missing at sea, Royal Caribbean is struggling to justify the two hour delay it caused in reporting the latest person overboard from the Allure of the Seas. Its excuse is a whopper – it claims that it first had to first search the ship to make certain that the passenger was still not onboard.
This statement is coming from a cruise line PR executive Cynthia Martinez, who is obviously unfamiliar with well established maritime rules and even her company’s own man overboard protocols. According to International Maritime Organization (IMO) recommendations and Coast Guard regulations, cruise ships are required to notify the Coast Guard if the person overboard is not "immediately" observed in the water.
Royal Caribbean knows better than to act like this. It has some highly experienced mariners and former Coast Guard commanders working for it, like former Coast Guard Commander Captain Howard Newhoff who was awarded a medal of commendation by President Reagan in the 1980’s and whose skills and service to this country are beyond reproach. He must be shaking his head in disgust after reading the PR statements dreamed up by the cruise line’s PR team members who don’t know the difference between port and starboard.
Royal Caribbean said that the Coast Guard was notified when the cruise ship found “the incident on the recording . . . from the video, we could pinpoint the exact time and location using Global Positioning System and provided that information to the Coast Guard.”
Nonsense. The Coast regulations require immediate notification. The GPS coordinates should have been sent to the Coast Guard immediately. Searching the largest cruise ship in the world and pouring over CCTV images from hundreds of cameras first? A person can float for tens of miles over the course of the unnecessary two hour delay.
Maritime experts on Ring of Fire Radio voiced their displeasure about the delay from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., over 2 hours after the passenger fell overboard. Gerald McGill, a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a former Commanding Officer of two Coast Guard cutters, states:
"The most troubling aspect of this tragedy is why the ship waited two hours before notifying the Coast Guard. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said the process of making sure a passenger is not onboard takes some time. She said such verification is necessary before the Coast Guard is notified ‘and they commit to sending assets to help search.’
However, in this case a witness reported seeing another passenger go overboard and video footage verified this. The important fact was that “someone” had fallen overboard. Determining who had fallen overboard should not have delayed notifying the Coast Guard. Hopefully the FBI investigation will address this issue."
Delayed notification causes the Coast Guard to expend additional resources and expands the search grid of the Coast Guard cutters, helicopters and aircraft. The expenses increase substantially. And most importantly the chances of the person being rescued – which is why immediate notification to the Coast Guard is required in the first place – decrease dramatically.
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