A crew member reportedly went overboard from the Celebrity Reflection last night, according to a passenger on the cruise ship.

The Celebrity cruise ship was sailing from Mykonos, Greece to Rhodes, Greece.

The passenger posted comments about the incident on her Twitter page and also on Instagram:

The majority of crew members who go overboard often do so intentionally. The incidents usually occur late at night or early in the morning.  The persons going overboard are typically not observed by other crew members or by passengers. We are not aware of any Celebrity cruise ships which are equipped with automatic man overboard systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes over the rails and tracks the person in the water, even at night, via infrared, heat sensor / motion detection / radar technology.

The usual scenario involves a crew member who is overworked during a long (6-7 month) contract and becomes demoralized and decides to end his life. Another crew member may notice that the crew member has not reported to work. The ship will eventually conduct a search of the ship and will look through the ship’s CCTV.  Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Celebrity / Royal Caribbean do not actively monitor the CCTV cameras on their  cruise ships. I have written about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean cruise ships without explanation.

During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

Any investigations conducted after the fact by the cruise company or the flag state are usually done to exonerate the cruise line.

The masters on these cruise ship must notify the cruise line’s security and marine operations departments in Miami by telephone regarding any “suspected overboard situation.” Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the company’s procedures prohibit the master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water. The ship turns around only after the master first notifies the cruise line’s marine operations department in Miami.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein’s website, at least 322 crew members and passengers have gone overboard since 2000.

If you have any information about this latest overboard, please leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Update: A Greek news source identifies the crew member as a 36 year-old from the Ukraine. The news source says that the man went overboard around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night but the search efforts did not begin until “early on Wednesday” (at around 5:00 a.m).

Read: Misery Machine and Crew Member Suicides

October 20, 2018 Update: The popular Crew-Center website identified the crew member as  Alex Heleta, a well liked young man who was “working as a bar server for several contracts on different Celebrity ships, and had just embarked on Reflection. Some sources say that Hellenic Coast Guard found Alex body near the Island of Santorini, and they will send it back home for his family and friends to commemorate.”

Image credit: AIS image of Celebrity Reflection – MarineTraffic

A passenger went overboard from the AIDAluna cruise ship this morning, according to numerous German news sources.

The AIDAluna left Hamburg, Germany on August 29th and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on September 14th. It was scheduled to arrive in St. Johns, Newfoundland around 2:00 P.M. today.

AIDA Cruises identified the passenger to be Daniel Küblböck, a former German “idol” singer / celebrity. The cruise line stated that 33 year-old Mr.  Küblböck allegedly jumped off the German cruise ship around 6 A.M. this morning, according to a tweet the cruise line sent earlier today.

AIDAluna turned the cruise ship around to conduct a search. Another cruise ship, HAL’s Zuiderdam, participated in the search.

AIDA Cruises has been in the news lately after German newspapers reported that a 53 year-old crew member went overboard from the AIDAbella cruise ship under mysterious circumstances earlier this year.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 320 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

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Photo credit: Huhu Uet – CC BY 3.0,  commons / wikimedia.

German newspapers are reporting that a crewmember, identified by his first name as “Mathias,” disappeared from the AIDAbella cruise ship earlier this year.

The Bild newspaper was the first publication to mention that an investigation is underway to explain the disappearance of the German crew member from the AIDA cruise ship in February of this year.

Six and one-half months ago, on February 22nd, crew member Mathias went over the rails as the cruise ship was sailing in Malaysian waters. The crew member last communicated with his wife, Gabi, early on February 21st when they exchanged text messages. Another German newspaper writes that Gabi then sent “three more messages to his cell phone – they all remain unanswered. After two long, worrisome days of uncertainty, Gabi . . . received a phone call from the Aida hiring manager and a pastor telling her that her husband has jumped” off of the cruise ship.

The German press asks “what happened in the 27 hours between Mathias’s last message and his death?” When Mathias’ wife finally received her husband’s suitcase two weeks later, she reportedly found blood stains on many of its contents, such as on a T-shirt, pairs of trousers and shoes, and his laptop and iPad.

AIDA claims that  Mathias cut his wrists but his wife asks the Bild newspaper how he somehow walked from deck 3 to deck 5 without anyone noticing the bleeding and without a trace of blood being documented?

I first read about the disappearance from cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, who has documented 320 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Maciek Godlewski – CC BY 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

 

Rowan Moore, a journalist for The Guardian newspaper in London, used the words “misery machines” in describing giant cruise ships in an opinion piece last Sunday. He writes:

Giant cruise ships look to me like misery machines. They don’t make residents happy in the places they visit. They don’t make their crews happy, if you are to believe the recurring allegations of mistreatment of staff . . .”

I posted the article on Facebook and Twitter. The push back from cruise passengers was instant. “Cruise lines enjoy 93+% customer satisfaction. That’s better than chocolate companies!!” posted a Facebook follower, echoing the common view of cruising from the perspective of cruise fans.

That’s the common reaction on social media whenever I write about the harsh employment conditions which crew members face on cruise ships. Many cruise passengers who read this blog could not care less.

Unfortunately, the same seems to be true when it comes to members of the U.S. Congress. If the problem does not involve a local constituent, most members of Congress will not give you the time of day. The nativist / anti-immigrant mentality promoted by the current administration has made it more difficult to defend the rights of “foreign” (i.e., non-U.S.) crew members who comprise the overwhelming majority of cruise ship employees.

I’ve attended hearings in Washington D.C. regarding the issue of cruise safety where the cruise industry has testified that that 95% of people who cruise have a positive experience. No doubt. Pampered by cabin attendants, waiters and bartenders, cruise guests enjoy the unrealistically inexpensive cruise fares offered by a cruise industry which pays no taxes and escapes U.S. wages and labor regulations by registering their businesses and ships in places like Liberia, Panama and the Bahamas.

As long as the cruise leaves and returns on time and doesn’t break down in between, most cruise guests are not concerned about what happens behind the scenes, whether it is overworked, underpaid and stressed-out crew members or sludge illegally dumped at sea.

No one cares to take a satisfaction survey of crew members.

Life on board a foreign flagged behemoth is no box of chocolates for the crew, despite the high guest satisfaction rating. The Guardian’s “misery machines” expression was the first thing I thought of earlier this week when I read the articles which several readers of this blog sent me about the death of a twenty-two year old Serbian man on the Carnival Fascination.

The man was described as a 22 year-old Serbian man named Nikola Arnautovic.

How unbelievably sad that a young man of only 22 years, just one year younger and one year older than my own two boys, would end his life at such an age.

But anyone who follows the cruise industry knows that suicides of crew members are hardly rare.

A British chef was found hanging in his cabin aboard the Crystal Serenity cruise ship several years ago.  Two weeks earlier, a safety officer on the Disney Dream committed suicide in a similar manner. And the day before that, a woman in Carnival’s entertainment department was found hanging in an officer’s quarters on the Carnival Sensation.

The popular Crew Center website, which first indicated that the recent death on the Carnival Fascination involved a crew member, reported that an Indian dishwasher on the Costa Magica was found hanging in his cabin in February 2017. A galley worker also committed suicide a few years earlier on the Island Princess by hanging.  He reportedly died in the first month of his first contract on the Princess Cruises’ ship. The Crew Center reported that, according to some crew members, he committed suicide because of the “enormous stress and pressure by his supervisors.”

Of course, most crew members do not end their lives by hanging themselves. Most ship employees who choose to end their lives do so by jumping overboard.  During a period of less than three years between December 2009 and October 2012, at least twelve crew members jumped overboard or simply disappeared from cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean/Celebrity Cruises. I wrote about the problem in an article titled “Is Royal Caribbean Working Its Crew Members to Death?”  The grueling schedule and long hours crew members are required to work 7 days a week, 30 days a month with no days off over the course of a 6 to 10 month contract, for far less than the U.S. minimum wage, often leave ship employees, who are already isolated from their families, exhausted and demoralized.

In the past decade, many dozens of crew members have jumped into the sea. The common reaction by guests is pointlessly “you can’t fall from a cruise ship” as if casting blame on the dead crew member will somehow solve the problem.

Mental health services for cruise ship employees are non-existent. And the  emotional well being of crew members is not a topic that is discussed in the U.S. Few Americans seem concerned with the working conditions on cruise ships faced by citizens of the greater world community. Most U.S. citizens respond to the exploitation of crew members from India or Jamaica with the rationalization that whatever pittance the “foreign” crew members receive is more than the workers can receive back home. “If they don’t like the work, they can quit” is the common saying.

For a U.S. based cruise industry whose mantra is the “safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority,” there seems to be little genuine expression of such a sentiment when a crew member disappears at sea.

In the last week, yet another crew member disappeared from another cruise ship. He was a Filipino, by the name of  Rezan Monteroso from the M/S Amsterdam. Mr. Monteroso had been aboard the Amsterdam for just 5 days when he went overboard, leaving behind a wife and family with young children.

There are no news articles anywhere mentioning Mr. Monterosa’s name (or the names of dozens of other crew members who have gone overboard before him), or explaining the circumstances surrounding his last days or hours.

Mr. Monterosa’s disappearance seems altogether too familiar – the ship had no automatic man overboard system and the notification to the Coast Guard and ensuing search were unreasonably delayed; there were no discussions about the need for mental health counselling or support from the cruise line following the soon-to-be-forgotten story; HAL reportedly shut off the feeds to the monitors on the ship when the ship finally realized that Ms. Monterosa went overboard, leaving the passengers in the dark as to what happened to the crew member; there seemed to be more guests asking about compensation for the “inconvenience” of a delayed arrival at the next port than any inquiry regarding why the Filipino employee went overboard in the first place. And no one seems to be making any efforts to even discuss making changes to reduce the likelihood of losing additional crew members at sea like this.

As matters now stand, crew members from around the world, from places like Serbia and the Philippines, have little support from the cruise industry and none from the U.S. government. It seems that when crew members jump overboard or hang themselves, the cruise lines couldn’t care less either, as long as it doesn’t affect their customer’s satisfaction rating.

Rest in Peace Mr. Monterosa and Mr. Arnautovic and prayers to your surviving families and friends.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo credit: M/S Amsterdam – Crew Center

A passenger from a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship has gone overboard in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the National Parks Traveler nonprofit media organization.

The Park Service issued a press release Saturday night that it had suspended its search for the missing passenger who reportedly disappeared from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship late Friday afternoon.  According to the press release, the sixty-nine year-old man was reported missing at 3:50 p.m. on Friday when he did not appear for a medical appointment on board the ship, a park release said. It is unclear when the passenger actually went overboard. KTUU reports that the man went overboard sometime on Friday morning.

The Park Service was notified 7:30 Friday evening after a ship-wide search confirmed that the HAL Westerdampassenger was missing from the cruise ship.

The Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches via vessels and/or aircraft.

There is no information regarding exactly when or where along the 65-mile Glacier Bay the man went overboard.

This appears to be another situation where the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately notify the bridge when a person went over the rails and then track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging. The officers on the HAL cruise ship apparently had to order a search of the ship to look for the passenger. HAL has not released any public information regarding whether CCTV captured images of the man going overboard.

According to Canadian Professor Ross Klein, there have been 316 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 15 people have gone overboard during the first six and one-half months of this year. Nine people have gone overboard from HAL cruise ships in the last eight and one-half years.

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July 17, 2018 Update: The National Parks Traveler writes that the passenger went overboard around 6:45 AM, according to HAL PR executive Sally Andrews. This means that there was a delay of nearly 13 hours between the passenger going overboard and the cruise line finally notifying the park service (around 7:30 PM), which is another compelling reason why cruise ships should have automatic man overboard systems installed. I previously mentioned Ms. Andrews in an article many years ago titled “Suicide” – One of the Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Photo credit: Roger Wollstadt CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard early this morning from the Seven Seas Mariner.

The cruise ship was returning, eventually, to Vancouver from a cruise to ports in Alaska. The ship was sailing to Victoria on the 10th day of an 11-day Alaska cruise which began in Vancouver on June 30th.  The cruise ship apparently first realized that the passenger had gone overboard when the ship was just north of Cape Flattery, at the northwestern tip of Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula.

The captain of the cruise ship reportedly told the Coast Guard that video footage showed a passenger jumping into the sea from an eighth-deck balcony at 4:15 a.m.  AIS data shows that the cruise ship Man Overboard Seven Seas Mariner Cruisehas turned around and has sailed to the northwest apparently in search for the overboard passenger.

Shortly after releasing information about how the passenger went overboard, the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest district in the tweeted:

“In previous post, the word “jump” was used, however we have NO indication of why the individual went overboard. Investigation will help determine what happened. Again, we have NO CLEAR info on what lead to him going overboard; crews actively searching at this time.”

In this case, the Coast Guard has at least accurately reported that the passenger went overboard earlier this morning.  In the last overboard cruise ship case, the Coast Guard erroneously reported that a crew member was seen going overboard from the Norwegian Getaway at 3:20 PM (which is when NCL finally realized that he was missing from the ship) when he actually went into the water at least 12 hours earlier.

The Seattle Times reports that the 73 year-old man’s wife “was awakened around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday by “a breeze coming from the balcony door cracked open” and discovered her husband missing, the Coast Guard said in one of several early-morning tweets about the rescue effort.” It is less than clear if and when the guest’s wife reported her husband missing to the ship’s crew.

This case is another example of a cruise ship where apparently no automatic man overboard system was installed. Such a system would immediately trigger an alarm in the bridge when someone goes over the railings and then track the person in the water through state-of-the-art infrared and radar technology. Without such a system, the ship has to look through CCTV film to see if it sheds light on if and when a passenger or crew member went overboard. The result is a delayed response and a huge search grid to be searched by Coast Guard aircraft and vessels.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 314 people have gone overboard since 2000.

Update: Unfortunately, according to KOMO News the passenger was found, unconscious. He was flown to a Port Angeles hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Photo credits: Top – MarineTraffic; bottom – KOMO.

Seven Seas Mariner Man Overboard

Norwegian GetawayA crew member employed by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has reportedly gone overboard from the Norwegian Getaway as the cruise ship was returning from a Caribbean cruise.

There is conflicting information regarding exactly when the crew member went overboard.  Some passengers have stated on social media that the crew member went overboard late at night (around 1:00 A.M.) or early this morning (3-4 A.M.). The captain of the NCL ship made an announcement earlier this afternoon and the ship turned around to conduct a search.

Miami Local News 10 reports that according to the U.S. Coast Guard, the crew member is a 33-year-old Filipino crew member who allegedly went overboard around 3:30 p.m. when the Getaway was about 28 miles northwest of Pinar del Rio, Cuba. The Coast Guard station in Miami deployed a HC-144 Ocean Sentry airplane to search the waters northwest of Cuba.

It seems possible, if not likely, that the news account may be reporting when the Coast Guard was first notified by the cruise ship of the missing crew member as opposed to when the crew member actually left the ship.

The Getaway left Miami last Sunday, June 24th, for a one week cruise which included ports in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. The ship left Cozumel yesterday evening and was expected to return to Miami early tomorrow morning.

We were first notified of the incident when an oncoming guest stated that the Getaway has been delayed because a crew member went overboard.

It does not appear that the ship was equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately send an alarm to the bridge went a person goes over the rails and can capture an image of the person and track the person in the water via radar and infrared technology.

According to cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein, 313 people have gone overboard since 2000.

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Read about what appears to be a similar crew member overboard, where the investigation by the flag state revealed how Royal Caribbean bungled the man overboard search: Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

July 1 2018 Update: A miracle. Overboard Missing Cruise Employee Found 21 Miles North Of Cuba.

Photo credit: Dickelbers – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Man Overboard Norwegian Getaway

Blue Horizon Ro-RoA young man went overboard from a passenger ship in the port of Piraeus four days ago, according to the Safety4Sea publication. During the evening of May 23, 2018, the passenger went overboard from the "RoRo" (roll on / roll off) ferry Blue Horizon, while the ship was still docked in the port of Piraeus.

The Piraeus Port Authority and the Hellenic Coast Guard authorities are reportedly searching for the 25 year-old man.

The man overboard incident was first reported after the passenger ship had departed from Piraeus for the port of Heraklion, with 255 passengers aboard; however, the ship returned to Piraeus once the officers realized that a passenger was missing. 

Safety4Sea states that once the Port Authority was notified, five patrol boats of the Hellenic Coast Guard and the Hellenic Navigation searched for the missing man without success. 

The Blue Horizon is owned and managed by Blue Star Ferries Maritime based in Athens, Greece.

Man overboards ("MOB’s") are an issue which occur not only on large cruise ships but have been an ongoing problem regarding ferries and other passenger ships.  The most publicized case is that involving a young man on the Pride of Kent who went overboard several years ago. Richard Fearnside disappeared from the P&O Ferries ship, sailing across the English Channel, which like all other ferries operated by this company did not have an automatic man overboard system or, for that matter, even a single CCTV camera focused on an exterior deck. 

Richard’s parents, Marianne and Bob Fearnside, of Whitstable, Kent (U.K.) have petitioned the ferry company to install cameras on the decks of its ships, without success to date. Over 100,000 have signed the petition to date

Photo credit:  Shipspotting via Safety4Sea

On December 8, 2017, a crew member went overboard from the Vision of the Seas cruise ship operated by Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruises. I reported on the incident at the time based on what passengers were stating about the cruise.

The Vision sailed out of Galveston on December 4, 2017 on a seven day cruise, leaving and returning to Galveston, to ports in Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico.  During the return cruise to Galveston, a crew member could not be accounted for. He apparently checked into his job in the early morning hours but had disappeared from the cruise ship sometime thereafter. A ship-wide search was conducted without success.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

I wrote at the time that there was no indication that the ship stopped or turned around to conduct a search in the water. Unfortunately, the scenario fits a typical pattern when a crew member goes over the rails un-witnessed late at night or in the early hours of the morning on a Royal Caribbean ship. Royal Caribbean has not invested in the available automatic man-overboard technology (using heat sensors, infrared, motion detection and/or radar technology) which can send a signal to the bridge, capture the image of the person going overboard, and track the person by radar in the water. Instead, the ship will eventually review closed-circuit television images, conduct a search of the cabin on the ship, often not perform a search at sea, and belatedly notify the U.S. Coast Guard.

Royal Caribbean registered the Vision of the Seas in the Bahamas which is responsible for conducting investigations when passengers or crew members go overboard from cruise ships registered in that flag of convenience (“FOC”) country. The Bahamas Maritime Authority (“BMA”) just published its investigation into this man overboard situation on the Vision. You can read the report here.

The BMA report offers a rare insight into how Royal Caribbean responds to and investigates man overboard situations. The report also attached internal security summaries and portions of Royal Caribbean’s safety and quality (“SQM”) manual which outline the cruise line’s written policies and procedures regarding a “missing person.”

The report reveals that Royal Caribbean repeatedly failed to inquire into the missing crew member’s whereabouts and failed to timely report his absence from the ship to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean register their cruise ships in countries like the Bahamas in order to avoid U.S. labor regulations and U.S. income taxes. They are used to having FOC states look the other way and not criticize them in situations like this, but the BMA report reveals very disturbing information about the shoddy operations of this cruise ship.

The BMA report indicates that the crew member was a 24 year-old citizen of Mauritius. The report  mentions that the crew member was a facilities cleaner who worked at the pool area on deck 9. He woke up around 4:30 A.M. in a cabin which he shared with his girlfriend who was also from Mauritius. He reported to work at 5:00 A.M. He walked to elevators which took him to deck nine and then he took an elevator to deck five. He walked to the stern on deck 5, placed his cleaning bucket on the deck, climbed over the stern rail and then climbed back onto the deck, and then walked toward the port side where he apparently jumped overboard.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

CCTV images (which officers on the ship first reviewed approximately eight and one-half hours later) show the crew member’s movements on decks 9 and 5 but do not show the crew members actually going overboard because a floodlight blocked the CCTV camera on the port/aft side on Deck 5 with a view of the stern of the ship.

There was no mention in the report of an automatic man overboard system which would have immediately sent a signal and alarm to the bridge that the crew member went over the rails.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

Unlike other cruise lines (like NCL), Royal Caribbean does not monitor the CCTV cameras on its cruise ships.

The BMA reveals the following chronology:

  • 04:30 – Crew member awakes and leaves cabin which he shared with his girlfriend;
  • 05:00 – Crew member reports to work and his supervisor assigns him the deck 9 pool deck to clean;
  • 05:09 – 5:14 – Crew member shown on CCTV heading to and walking on deck 9 and then goes to deck 5 where he climbs over the stern railing near the crew life-raft canister area which does not provide direct access to the sea and then he climbs over the rail back onto deck 5;
  • 05:14 – Crew member walks to port side of the stern which has direct drop to the water and apparently jumps overboard (although CCTV camera is blocked);
  • 09:30 – Crew member fails to attend mandatory safety training;
  • 12:00 – Designated safety officer responsible for training goes to lunch without noting that the crew member was absent from training;
  • 12:40 – Crew member’s supervisor, the Facilities Head Cleaner, notes that the crew member is missing from his work station;
  • 12:45 – 1st Announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:05 – Bridge was informed;
  • 13:16 – 2nd announcement made in crew areas;
  • 13:40 – 3rd announcement made in crew and areas;
  • 13:40 – 14:45 – Officers review CCTV footage; take statements from the facilities head cleaner and head cleaner; staff captain and master interview the crew member’s girlfriend and isolates her in a different cabin with a security guard posted outside the door;
  • 14:45 – Security officer notifies Global Security department in Miami of a “possible missing person;”
  • 15:20 – Search of ship begins;
  • 15:45 – Security Officer seals crew member’s cabin, locks cabin door with padlock and “crime scene tape;” officers conclude that there is no clear view of crew member jumping overboard because the area of the railing is not covered by CCTV (blind area) but concludes that “CCTV clearly showed a CM …. entering the area where he possible jumped over board and did not return back;”
  • 15:47 – Master notifies U.S. Coast Guard in Galveston by telephone about “missing person” situation;
  • 16:49 – “Whole ship search” completed but missing crew member not found.

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

There are a couple of conclusions which can readily be made from this chronology:

It took seven and one-half hours before the supervisor noticed that the crew member was missing from his work station.  It took eight and one-half hours before the safety officer reviewed the CCTV images. It took over nine and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard (and two hours after the first public announcement of the missing man were made on the ship) before the security officer finally notified the security department in Miami that a crew member probably went overboard. It then took over another hour to finally notify the U.S. Coast Guard of the overboard crew member. At this time, it Royal Caribbean SQM Safety and Quality Manual was then over ten and one-half hours after the crew member went overboard.

It appears that the officers on the Royal Caribbean ship were indifferent to whether the Coast Guard even conducted a search after this extraordinary delay.  The Security Officer wrote in his report (attached to the BMA report) that “we are not aware if a search was carried out by USCG.”

The Royal Caribbean SQM (blurred in original) requires the master of the cruise ship to “immediately” notify the cruise line’s security and marine operations departments by telephone in any “suspected overboard situation.” Unless there is an actual and reliable sighting of the person going overboard, the SQM also prohibits the Master from turning the ship around to conduct searches in the water and even then only after the Master first notifies the cruise line’s marine operations department in Miami.

Notably absent from the flag state report is any mention of the fact that the cruise ship lacked an automatic man overboard system. The report’s conclusions and recommendations do not discuss the obvious problem that the bridge was not immediately aware that the crew members went over the rails. The only conclusion of significance was that if the security “trainer had reported him absent when training was to commence (i.,e., at 9:30, over four hours after the crew member went overboard) then his own work supervisor may have raised the alarm considerably earlier.” The only recommendation in the report was to review “possible impediments to all cameras should be made and rectified where found.”

Vision of the Seas SQM Safety and Quality Manual Royal Caribbean

This is hardly a reasonable conclusion or recommendation. Eliminating blind spots in CCTV cameras (to be reviewed only after-the-fact when crew members have already gone overboard long ago) or requiring diligence in requiring attendance in crew training (again with the hope that a person not attending a training session will somehow result in a supervisor learning that a crew member went overboard hours earlier) will not possibly achieve immediate notification of a man overboard.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean cruise ships without explanation. During a three year period between 2009 and 2012, at least thirteen crew members went over the rails of Royal Caribbean (and Celebrity) ships, including the Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas (twice), Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas. Oasis of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Celebrity Constellation, Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Summit, and Monarch of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas (two). Most of these cases were never investigated by the flag state, which, it seems, could not care less.

Until the United States Coast Guard becomes concerned with the absence of automatic man overboard systems on cruise ships calling on U.S. ports and institutes serious action against the companies for the extreme delays in reporting overboard crew and passengers (like preventing the ships from sailing), cruise lines like Royal Caribbean will continue to act in this irresponsible manner.

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Image credits: Bahamian Maritime Authority

In a press release, the the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it suspended its search and rescue efforts for a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Paradise on May 22, 2018. The Coast Guard stated that it ended its search on the following day at approximately 9 P.M. (May 23, 2018), which is approximately 35 hours after Carnival notified it (at 10:00 A.M. on May 22nd) that a passenger was missing from the cruise ship. (The Coast Guard’s press release erroneously states that it searched for 55 hours).

The Coast Guard indicated that its search covered a vast grid, consisting of over 3,000 square miles. 

The Coast Guard reportedly deployed a "C-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft crew from Air Station Miami, and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo, homeported in Key West." 

The huge search grid and the deployment of a helicopter, two aircraft and a cutter to search over 3,000 square Carnival Paradise Man Overboardmiles were necessary due to Carnival’s apparent delay in notifying the Coast Guard of the missing passenger, who was subsequently identified as Brian Lamonds of Greensboro, North Carolina. 

According to the press release, Coast Guard watchstanders in Key West received a call via marine band radio at approximately 10 A.M. on May 22nd from the cruise ship stating the passenger was missing and reportedly went overboard.

Based on the information received from Carnival, the Coast Guard stated that Mr. Lamonds went overboard "about 85 miles west of Fort Myers." This suggests that Mr. Lamonds probably went overboard early in the morning hours of May 22nd after the ship left Tampa late on the afternoon of May 21st.  Obviously the man overboard did not occur off the coast of Fort Meyers at 10:00 A.M. Fort Meyers is around 125 nautical miles north of Key West, which is around 6 to 8 hours away from Key West given an approximate vessel speed of 15 to 20 knots. If Carnival didn’t notify the Coast Guard until 10:00 A.M., an hour from its scheduled arrival at 11:00 A.M., the cruise ship was probably just 15 or 20 nautical miles north of Key West at this point. The cruise ship had sailed for many hours since Mr. Lamonds went overboard. 

A passenger tweeted as of 10:01 A.M. on May 22nd "On the #CarnivalParadise … they are now doing room to room searches for a passenger. Praying he’s passed out in a room." She later tweeted that the 11:00 A.M. disembarkation was delayed for at least 45 minutes.  So if this information is correct, it appears that Carnival was searching on the ship for him when it requested the Coast Guard to begin its search at 10:00 A.M.

The most likely scenario is that the Carnival Paradise is not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would send a signal and sound an alarm in the bridge as soon as someone went over the rails of the ship. At that point, modern state-of-the-art systems would use infrared and radar technology to track the person in the water, even at night. 

Cruise ships that have not installed these systems have to rely on a report from a crew member or another guest who may have happened to witness the man going overboard. The ship’s officers would then have to manually review CCTV surveillance videos to see if the man overboard can be verified and, if so, when and where the person went into the water. Many cruise lines require that the ship contact the marine operation and/or security department back in Miami before turning the ship around. In this case, we know from AIS data (right) that the Carnival Paradise never turned the ship around or conducted any type of search in the water.

The 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act requires cruise lines to employ current MOB technology whenever feasible. Many cruise lines and their defenders claim that the technology is not reliable. But there are highly reputable manufacturers with tested and proven technology that works impressively. 

I attended all of the many hearings in Congress before the automatic man overboard law was passed  eight years ago.  I watched the cruise lines and lobbying firms spend millions of dollars fighting against the legislation. It’s disheartening to see the cruise lines still failing to install the systems. These systems save lives. Without such a system, cruise lines must review the CCTV video after-the-fact to see if it shows anyone going over the rails and then search the passenger cabins when their guest has already gone into the water hours earlier, to only then belatedly call on the Coast Guard to essentially search for a needle in a haystack.  Plus, it’s a huge waste of time and taxpayer money (that the foreign flagged cruise industry doesn’t have to pay).

I’ve sent a Freedom of Information (FOIA) to the Coast Guard to request for the details of exactly when Carnival notified the Coast Guard of the overboard guest, where the ship was located when it first realized that a guest was missing, and when and how the guest went overboard. I also will try to determine how much it costs for the Coast Guard to launch two search-aircraft, a helicopter and a cutter from stations around Florida to search a grid pattern of over 3,000 square miles for 35 hours. I estimate that the figure is probably around $1,000,000 which would have been far better spent in installing life-saving technology in the first place.

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