A crew member employed on the MSC Seascape went overboard near Puerto Rico last night around 8:00 P.M. (November 14, 2023). The United States Coast Guard (“USCG”) deployed two rescue vessels and a helicopter to search for the overboard employee.

NBC Miami reported that the crew member is from India and is a 30 year old man who was observed going overboard about 80-feet from the bow of the cruise ship from a height of approximately 32 feet above the water. The popular Crew Center, however, reports that the crew member involved in the incident is a Mauritian national employed as a hotel cleaner. 

There is no publicly available information regarding why the crew member went overboard. Most ship employees go overboard by jumping due to long working hours, fatigue & depression, and contracts that last for as long as six to ten months, isolation from their families and the lack of support and counseling.

A news reporter for a TV station in California, Sophia Lesseos, and a journalist, Liz González of KMPHFox26, who were both aboard the cruise ship and posted several videos on Twitter.

There is no indication that the MSC Seascape has a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system which would automatically detect, via motion detection, radar and infra-red technology, when someone goes over the rails and can track the person in the water even at night. Without such a system, it is exceedingly difficult to search for a person in the water, especially at night.

In 2017, we reported that MSC Cruises announced that it had installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and was planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

MSC Cruises indicated that it developed an “intelligent video capturing and analysis system” in collaboration with “security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.” The Swiss-based cruise line announced that it has tested the new man overboard system on the company’s newest ship which debuted in June (2017).  MSC reported that “through over 25,000 hours of video analysis, extensive software testing and continuous algorithmic updates, the system has now reached a confirmed accuracy level of 97%.”

The MOB data and images are analyzed by two separate and independent image processing systems which significantly lower false alerts. “Once the alarm is activated in case of an overboard, an acoustic signal and light will notify the ship’s security officer, in a central security room, who can immediately retrieve and review the images and data and immediately notify the bridge to begin rescue efforts,” according to  Seatrade Cruise News. MSC Cruises announced MSC Meraviglia is “fitted with an integrated video surveillance system to optimize security monitoring on board the ship and which will allow, among other features, for the speediest intervention in the unlikely event a person or object falls overboard.”

In July 2019, a cruise guest in her 40’s went overboard from the MSC Meraviglia but was promptly rescued after the auto MOB alerted the crew that she went overboard.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that any other MSC ships have been equipped with the life saving MOB system. Nineteen (19) people have gone overboard from MSC cruise ships since 2006.

There have been at least 397 people have gone overboard from cruise ships in the last 25 years.

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Image credit: Crew Center – MSC Seascape; Sophia Lesseos – videos via Twitter; Andrea @Inwoodmomma via Twitter – video via twitter; and Liz González / @LizKMPH – videos via Twitter.