A number of newspapers in Galveston are reporting that the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a Royal Caribbean crew member who apparently went overboard from the Liberty of the Seas this morning.
ABC-13 News in Galveston is reporting that a 39-year-old Filipino crew member was reported missing from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship around 4:30 a.m. this morning.
Images of the unidentified crew member were reportedly captured by a closed circuit television (CCTV) on the Liberty of the Seas at about 1:30 a.m. Monday. He was later reported missing at 4:30 a.m. after he failed to report to his job station.
The Coast Guard search involved an airplane dispatched from the Coast guard station in Corpus Christi and a patrol boat from Galveston. The crew member is believed to have disappeared approximately 170 miles southeast of Galveston.
The three hour delay between the last images of the crew member on CCTV and the reporting of the missing crew member probably means that the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would have immediately notified the bridge that a person has gone over the rails of the ship and into the water.
AIS tracking systems reveal that the Liberty of the Seas apparently did not conduct searches for the crew member in the Gulf of Mexico.
This is an issue we have written about regularly.
Modern man overboard technology includes motion detection systems which can immediately signal the bridge and simultaneously capture an image of the person going overboard thus verifying that is not a false alarm. The technology can actually track the person in the water, even at night, with radar and infrared technology.
Where most overboards involving cruise passengers seem to be the result of the sale of excessive alcohol, overboards involving crew members seems to involve employees jumping overboard (there is no evidence that this occurred in this specific case). In 2012, I chronicled a dozen crew members who went overboard from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise ships during a period of three years. I cited the difficult working conditions and low pay which crew members face which are almost unimaginable by U.S. standards: 12 plus hour days, 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of 6 to 10 month contacts, for as little as $550 a month for non-tip earning ship employees. I asked Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?
This problem is not limited solely to the Royal Caribbean brands. We have written about crew members from Carnival, MSC, NCL and Princess who have apparently intentionally gone overboard.
In our experience, the medical treatment for physical injuries involving crew members is spotty at best. Ibuprofen is often the only "treatment." Medical care for crew members suffering from depression and other emotional issues is virtually non-existent.
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Photo credit: Hassocks5489 at English Wikipedia – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.