On November 15, 2023, we wrote about a thirty year-old crew member on the MSC Seascape who went overboard over two weeks ago while employed on the MSC cruise ship after sailing from Miami on a Caribbean cruise. The United States Coast Guard deployed two rescue vessels and a helicopter to search for the overboard ship employees who could not be located.

The MSC Seascape, Like All Other Cruise Ships in MSC’s Fleet Other than the MSC Meraviglia, Has No Lifesaving Auto-MOB System Installed

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.

Back in 2017, 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, over six years later MSC has still not installed this successful automatic MOB system on any of its twenty-one other cruise ships, including the MSC Seascape from which this latest crew member disappeared.

Vishnu Vardhan Cheelam – The Latest Missing Crew Member From a MSC Cruise Ship

The crew member is named Vishnu Cheelam and is survived by his mother, Laxmi, and sisters, Diyva and Rani. The family lives in India.

Vishnu worked for MSC as a cleaner. He last spoke with his family shortly before he disappeared from the ship, They described him as being in good spirits, looking forward to returning home in February. They talked about the progress of the new family home which has been under construction for a few months. Vishnu lost his father at a young age (age 5) and his family considers him to be the “man of the house.” He provides financial support to his mother on a monthly basis.

MSC Refuses to Cooperate with the Family

The family contacted me after MSC refused to provide them with information surrounding his disappearance from the cruise ship. After telling his sister that he was lost at sea, MSC has refused to provide the family with a copy of his employment contract and collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or even return his personal effects from his cabin. MSC has not paid his outstanding wages and $1,500 in cash was taken from Vishnu’s cabin. MSC also refuses to provide the family with a copy of CCTV images of him or provide statements from eye witnesses explaining why this hard working ship employee went overboard.

Vishnu’s family is emotionally devasted by Vishnu’s disappearance not to mention the shoddy way that MSC has responded to this tragedy. The construction of the family home has stopped while the family faces an uncertain future. They have been provided with no answers to the details of what happened to their beloved family member. They have received no wages or work benefits from MSC or even the gesture of Vishnu’s modest personal effects from his cabin on the cruise ship.

MSC Lacks Basic Procedures When Crew Disappear From Their Ships

Nineteen people have gone overboard from MSC cruise ships since 2006. You would think that a major corporation would have procedures in place to communicate with family members who have lost a loved one at sea. Keeping an overboard crew member’s wages and personal effects and forcing a grieving family to retain a lawyer is despicable conduct if not tantamount to fraud. MSC’s lack of institutional procedures in its claims office and on its ships when a crew member goes overboard creates an opportunity for unscrupulous ship employees to pilferage a dead employee’s belongings and shore-side claims managers to ignore grieving family members.

MSC has demonstrated a complete lack of basic civility by ignoring this family – it has chosen not to even communicate a basic expression of compassion to Vishnu’s grieving mother or sisters.

Help Us Help This Family

That is why I have started a GoFundMe petition to try and help the Cheelam family as they struggle to deal with this devastating loss. (We are handling this case and organizing the donation petition strictly on a pro bono basis. 100% of the money raised will go directly to Vishnu’s family).

Please take a moment and help!

Thank you so much.

If you have a comment or question, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. Crew members who wish to remain anonymous, are encourage to send us a direct message (DM) on our Facebook page.

December 9, 2023 Update:

Boing Boing published an article about this latest overboard from a MSC cruise ship and this GoFundMe effort: