An American passenger went overboard early Wednesday morning from the MSC Armonia as the cruise ship sailed from Europe to Brazil. This is the second person to go overboard from a MSC cruise ship in the last month following the disappearance of crew member Vishnu Cheelam from the MSC Seascape last month.

In this latest overboard case, it does not appear that the MSC ship made any effort to conduct a search for the man in the water. AIS tracking services show that the MSC Armonia made no deviation of its course as the ship headed across the Atlantic ocean.

The apparent failure to conduct a timely search for the overboard passenger was a direct result of the failure of this ship to have a man overboard (MOB) system which would instantly detect someone going over the rails of the ship. It is inexplicable that the MSC ship did not conduct a search when it was told the the guest was missing.

Initial reports from a Brazilian newspaper suggests that that the 40-year-old man “fell into the sea after an argument with his companion . . . It is not known whether he threw himself or was pushed by someone.” The G1 (Globo) newspaper quotes an unidentified passenger stating that “the man disappeared around 5 a.m. and only at 9 a.m.” did his companion reported him missing. This person also stated that there were “signs of physical aggression.” The cabin in which the couple was staying was closed off and the police in Brazil later investigated the circumstances surrounding the incident.

A second newspaper in Brazil, 40 Degrees, reported that a team of investigators was sent to the ship when it arrived in Brazil. The police interviewed people and reviewed security camera images which reportedly did not indicate that there were signs of homicide notwithstanding one guest telling investigators that “there were signs of physical attacks.” MSC Cruises claims “that the passenger was alone when he intentionally jumped overboard.” 

There have been twenty (20 ) cases of passengers and crew members going overboard from MSC cruise ships since 2006, according to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s definitive data.

The MSC Armonia is not equipped with 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, if not impossible, 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.

The Boing Boing website covered this issue in an article ten days ago:

You can read our GoFundMe petition for the family of the missing MSC crew members here – Help Family of Cruise Ship Employee Lost at Sea. MSC refuses to stipulate that their crew member who went overboard a month ago is deceased, or pay death benefits to his family, or pay the crew member’s earned wages until his death, or return his personal effects to his family.

To our knowledge, MSC has not issued a formal statement to the press regarding this missing passenger. MSC did not make a statement regarding the overboard crew member, Mr. Vishnu Cheelam, who went overboard last month either.

It’s a shame that this cruise line continues to refuse to install life-saving MOB systems on its ships.

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Image credit: MSC AmoniaMSC Cruises News / @MSCCruises_PR.

December 16, 2023 Update:

Business Insider published an article regarding this latest overboard from a MSC cruise ship. MSC Cruises says “a passenger jumped from one of its ships while sailing from Europe to South America.”

The article was based primarily on an article by the cruise fan page Cruise Hive.

Neither publication mentioned the absence of absence of a MOB system on this cruise ship (MSC Armonia) of that it failed to conduct a timely search for the missing man.