Majesty of the Seas Life VestThe U.S. Coast Guard ordered Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas to remain at Port Canaveral after a safety inspection yesterday revealed problems with the ship’s life vests.

Upset passengers quickly went to social media to voice their displeasure:

As reported by local ABC affiliate WFTV- 9:

@eric_thebruce tweeted:  "How many life jackets aren’t up to code @RoyalCaribbean? This didn’t sneak up on you. Thanks for checking @uscoastguard" 

@Jktaylor1 tweetded "@RoyalCaribbean come on man. 1st the Captain makes an announcement we are leaving early morning. Now we are delayed until 1400. #Unsatisfied"

@vballrach1 tweetded "@RoyalCaribbean we are spending the night in port due to safety violations reported by the Coast Guard. never had this happen before"

The Majesty of the Seas is a Sovereign-class cruise ship built in 1992.  The nearly 25-year old ship apparently had old life vests aboard the ship which were in a state of disrepair. The Coast Guard stated that its inspection revealed "some technical issues, including some outdoor lifejackets showing their age."

A month ago, a lifeboat fell off from another one of the older Royal Caribbean cruise ships, the 20-year old Grandeur of the Seas, while the ship was at port in Charleston.    

The Majesty is expected to replace the life vests today and sail later this afternoon. 

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Photo Credit: Coast Guard Statement – @MarkLehman

 

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GreenlandThe Arctic Journal reports that police in Greenland are investigating the cause of a sinking yesterday of a vessel carrying 23 passengers from the small, luxury cruise ship, L’Austral (operated by Compagnie du Ponant).

The articles states that the cruise passengers were on board a "locally hired boat" near Ilulissat Icefjord when it began sinking and had to be rescued by another nearby vessel. The cause of the incident has not been disclosed, although it is suggested that the vessel probably struck an underwater rock or iceberg.  

Ilulissat Icefjord, on the west of Greenland, is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Cruising the Arctic waters has been the subject of conversation recently. The Crystal Serenity will start its month long cruise on Tuesday through the Arctic. The Serenity will be accompanied by an ice–strengthened polar logistics vessel, RRS Ernest Shackleton, for safety backup, according to a recent article in the Guardian newspaper. The issue remains whether the cruise ship is prepared for what can go wrong in the Arctic.

In June, the Arctic expedition cruise ship Ortelius experienced an engine failure in Hinlopenstretet, near Vaigattøyane (to the east of Greenland) , and had to be towed’ back to Longyearbyen. Mishaps when small cruise ships and expedition  vessels strike underwater rocks are not unheard of, and include the Clelia II and the Explorer, which sank in Antarctica.  

August 16 2016 Update: The Arctic Journal identifies the excursion vessel as the "Inuk II, a privately hired boat ferrying passengers from a cruise ship ifIlulissat Sunday night." The updated article contains several dramatic photos of the vessel sinking. "Inuk II, a 39-foot power boat rated to a capacity of 22 passengers, was 100 metres from the L’Austral, a French-flagged luxury expedition ship, when it began taking on water and rapidly sinking." The article also said that in addition to being overcrowded with 23 passengers aboard, the Inuk II struggled to manually release its life rafts, which by that point were submerged but had not released automatically.  "By the time the final cruise passenger left the Inuk II, the water had risen to waist level . . .  An Inuk II crewmember made a final check to make sure all passengers had been evacuated before the securing line was cut in order to prevent the Clane (a fishing vessel involved in the rescue) from being dragged down with the sinking boat."

Photo credit: By Michael Haferkamp – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.  

Vessel finder reported yesterday that all passengers and crew members were accounted for after the Wihan Sejahtera cruise ferry sank in Lamong Bay, Surabaya in Indonesia on Monday.

NBC News reports that passengers and crew made a dramatic escape from the capsizing ferry in Indonesia. "With the ferry listing dangerously, people can be seen climbing down the side of the ship — some even appear to be rappelling — before jumping into the water . . ." 

The Indonesian-flagged RoRo (roll-on, roll-off) ferry, built in 1985, sank shortly after it departed the Port of Tanjung Perak, Surabaya.

Photo Credit: ANTARA FOTO / Reuters via NBC News.

Wihan Sejahtera

 

https://youtube.com/watch?v=yVvSJOMOABA%3Frel%3D0

 

Today, the body of Costa crew member Russel Rebello was found in the salvaged wreck of the Costa Concordia. His remains were the last to be removed from the ill-fated cruise ship. 

Mr. Rebello was known to his fellow crew members as a warm, friendly and always-smiling young man. He was last seen going back into the sinking ship to rescue passengers.

Rusel RebelloTragedies like the Costa Concordia define a person. When disaster strikes, will the person shirk their responsibilities and run like a coward? Or will they rise to the occasion and help others? 

Maritime lore and tradition say that the captain always goes down with the ship. That’s not exactly true, but the saying reinforces the notion that the captain must be the last person on the ship. He is required by maritime regulations to be aboard the ship in order to supervise the orderly evacuation of all aboard, before he exits.

Francisco Schettino fled the Concordia like a scared rat. He does not deserve even to be called a captain.

When the Concordia hit the rocks and eventually slipped into the sea, it was Mr. Rebello who acted as the true master of the vessel. He put the safety and well being of the guests before himself.  He honored the maritime tradition of a captain staying on the ship and placing himself in harm’s way to help others.

 

Pay your respects below or on our Facebook page.

Earlier this morning we posted an article on Facebook about a terrible maritime disaster involving a South Korean ferry carrying 462 passengers and crew members.

The ferry is the Sewol and was carrying hundreds of school children. The official count was 325 students and 14 teachers

The ferry was sailing south to the resort island of Jeju. it apparently hit something, listed and quickly sank.

There is no indication yet what caused the disaster.  

Many students on the sinking ferry sent heartbreaking text messages to their parents.

A CNN video is below:

http://www.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/world/2014/04/16/wbt-salmon-south-korea-ferry-sinks-survivor.cnn

CBS News aired a short special this morning on its show "CBS This Morning: Saturday."

CBS says that safety experts are concerned over the safety of large cruise ships that have grown to unprecedented sizes. Jay Herring, a former Carnival Line senior officer and the author of "The Truth About Cruise Ships," joined the show and talked about how cruise ships are getting larger and larger.

He also talked about one of my favorite topics, namely the emergency evacuation chute on Royal Caribbean’s Allure and Oasis cruise ships.  There are not enough life boats on these giant ships.  So crew members have to jump down a chute 60 feet down to a rubber life raft in cases of fire or sinking of the ship.  It’s a waiting disaster if an emergency occurs in rough seas far from land.  

  

 

Yesterday morning, CNN’s New Day aired a short program about Captain Schettino’s testimony at his criminal trial. He claims that he is not to blame for the deadly Concordia disaster.    

CNN’s Erin McLaughlin reports on the story.

I was interviewed briefly in the program.

You can read about the story here.

You can also read about my thoughts about Captain Schettino’s testimony here.  

 

 

Maritime Lawyer Jim Walker - Cruise LawIn yesterday’s criminal trial against Captain Schettino, the disgraced captain of the doomed Costa Concordia testified that the disaster was not his fault, but was due to the error of the helmsman who failed to promptly follow his orders to turn the cruise ship away from the rocks.

Schettino testified that when he arrived in the bridge, he told the officer at the helm to turn the rudder to the left, which would have pulled the stern to the right and possibly avoided the rocks. But there was a delay of around 12 to 13 seconds, and the helmsman turned the rudder to the right.

The problem with Schettino’s defense is that it was Captain Schettino who decided to divert the cruise ship from its scheduled route and head the ship directly toward Giglio in the first place.  The cruise ship then sailed four miles off course heading dangerously close to the rocky island.  

Sailing a ship off course like this, at high speed, in the night is ill conceived. Its not much different than altering the scheduled course of a 747 aircraft and flying it toward a mountain to show off. It’s hardly a defense to Captain Schettinothe captain’s malfeasance by returning to the cockpit at the last second and telling a subordinate officer to try and make a last ditch emergency maneuver to avoid crashing the plane. Thar’s just additional evidence of the captain’s recklessness.

Captain Schettino also complained that Costa should shoulder some of the blame because the Costa nautical maps did not accurately depict the rocky shoals which the Concordia struck.  I say hogwash to that, because the cruise ship should not have been anywhere near Giglio. The granite rocks around Giglio are part of the geological structure of the earth and have existed for over a million years. If the maps on the ship are not perfect and miss a rock or two, Schettino nonetheless planned to head the ship directly on what essentially was a collision course with the island of Giglio.

The 32 deaths are due in large part due to the captain’s delay in ordering the evacuation of the passengers and crew. The helmsman had nothing to do with that. My opinion is that the Italian court will find Schettino guilty of all counts: causing the shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Schettino’s game of blaming everyone except himself must be particularly painful to the families of the Captan Schettino - Costa Concordia32 dead passengers and crew who are trying to heal from the horror of losing their loved ones on Captain Schettino’s ship. It also reveals a lack of remorse and a continuing arrogance which hopefully the court will consider in sentencing the cowardly captain.

CNN interviewed me about Schettino’s testimony this morning on its program "New Day." The images are from the CNN program this morning.

Lots of people thought that once the Costa Concordia was finally brought back from the dead and uprighted in Giglio, the cruise ship would be hauled off into the Italian sunset and taken to a scrapyard for dismantling.

That’s not going to happen anytime soon. As much as we all hope and dream that this cursed cruise ship would simply vanish from our collective sight, unfortunately life is not as simple as this.

Here’s what lies ahead:

More Salvage Work: The cruise ship will be secured so that it does not sink or topple over due to the rough weather of the upcoming winter.  As you can see from the photo to the right. the hull of the Costa Concordia Salvage ParbucklingConcordia is warped and mangled and needs to be stabilized and reinforced. Remember, the plan is to tow the cruise ship away. Given the cruise ship’s screwed-up condition, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. The consensus seems to be that work on the ship will continue until next spring. Yes, the salvage costs will exceed the $800,000,000 or so spent so far. Expect the final salvage tally to be over $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion).

Police Will Investigate the Crime Scene: There are two bodies of the dead which remain in the ship. There can be no closure until the bodies of cruise passenger, Maria Trecarichi, and Costa crew member, Russel Rebello, have been located in the ship. Engineers are popping champagne corks in the local bars in Giglio and drinking whiskey and beer after the technological & engineering success of righting the cruise beast. I say abate the party until the dead are recovered and the families are notified.   

Personal Effects Will Be Gathered: There are reportedly some 1,500 cabin safes which need to be accessed. Jewelry and any salvageable personal effects need to be returned to the owners.   

The Ship Needs to be Floated Away: At this point, the salvors will leave the cruise ship on the multiple underwater platforms. The ship will not be floated until later next year when weather permits. You will see the Concordia at the port in Giglio for at least another 6 of 7 months. Yes, expect another highly reported over-the-top media event when the ship is finally hauled away next year.

Criminal Trial: The criminal trial against Captain Schettino will start again soon.  The fun of raising the ship is over. Now the dirty work of placing the noose around the neck of the already convicted-in-the-media Captain Coward to hold him responsible for the deaths and suffering must go forward.        

The Cruise Lines PR War Will Continue:  The cruise industry will continue to say that his was a "freak accident" whereas the students of history and safety advocates will say that more accidents, deaths and mayhem will continue given the priorities of the cruise lines. Choose your side.   

Contentious Litigation: A representative of Costa states that the cruise line intends to leave the environment around Giglio in a "pristine" condition similar to that what existed before the dreadful shipwreck. If that means that the salvage costs and environmental costs exceed one billion dollars and the applicable insurance proceeds are exhausted and corporate money is spent, so be it claims Costa before the cameras and reporters. Protecting the environment and restoring it to its original condition is paramount according to the cruise line’s PR team.

Unfortunately, the cruise line has exactly the opposite attitude toward the passengers and crew members it traumatized. Costa offered $14,600, take it or leave it, to its guests (not crew) for all of their belongings, clothes, electronics, and personal effects, and their pain and suffering and mental anguish, due to the horrifying events surrounding the Concordia’s capsizing. Do you think that restoring the passengers and crew to their original, pre-shipwreck, "pristine" condition is a goal of Costa?  Hardly.

Over a billion $ for the cruise ship salvage but pennies for the dead and suffering. Costa / Carnival and their Miami attorneys are primed and ready to continue the dog fight against the victims.

It won’t be pretty when the cameras are off and the reporters covering the exciting salvage efforts have gone home.                        

 

Photo Credit: Claudio Giovannini