automatic man overboard

A crew member went overboard from the Harmony of the Seas yesterday morning, according to a Royal Caribbean ship employee who wishes to remain confidential.

The crew member is reportedly an entertainer from the U.K. who was a member of the shipboard musical production of Grease on the Harmony of the Seas.

The Harmony of the Seas left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 23rd and was sailing to Philipsburg, St. Maarten where it arrived this morning and will remain until 5 p.m. today.

The crew member apparently went overboard early Christmas morning some where north of Puerto Rico before the cruise ship reached St. Maarten.

The U.S. Coast Guard identified the missing crew member as “Arron Hough, 20, of the United Kingdom.”

The last Royal Caribbean crew member who went overboard disappeared from the Adventure of the Seas. He was subsequently identified as Jack Daniel Ackroyd from Cotgrave (near Nottingham) England.

As in the case of Mr. Ackroyd, Mr. Hough apparently disappeared without anyone noticing. Due to the absence of a auto man overboard system, which would instantly send a signal to the bridge and then track the overboard person in the water even at night, there was apparently no timely search for the crew member.

Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean claims that it does not believe the available overboard detection technology is “reliable,” a conclusion refuted by numerous experts and manufacturers of state-of-the-art MOB systems.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain was quoted in an article in Quartz by Rosie Spinks titled People fall off cruise ships with alarming regularity. Can anything be done to stop it? He stated that MOB technology “is not yet at a viable stage,” despite modern systems like this and this.

It never ceases to amaze me that a cruise line that collects over 8,000,000,000 (billion $$) dollars a year tax-free, and builds billion dollar Genesis class cruise ships like the Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas,  Symphony of the Seas and the Harmony of the Seas, refuses to invest in such life-saving technology.

We have written before about Royal Caribbean’s dismal attitude about MOB systems and procedures relative to crew members – Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, 327 people have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 25 people have gone overboard this year alone – an average of more than 2 a month.

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December 26, 2018 PM update: According to the Miami Herald, the Coast Guard was not notified until 1:45 pm today, even though the crew member apparently went overboard around 4 am.

Royal Caribbean’s PR department states that:

“We are saddened to report that after a review of the ship’s closed-circuit camera footage, he was observed entering an area on Deck 5 at around 4am and was not seen again. Local authorities were notified and a ship-wide search for the crew member was conducted.”

This means that the Harmony of the Seas did not conduct a search at sea at all.

Photo credit: Top – Royal Caribbean promotional video of the Harmony of the Seas; bottom – Aaron Luke Hough Twitter

A cruise passenger reportedly went overboard from the MSC Preziosa in the Caribbean several days ago, according to the France-Antilles newspaper.

The Martinique newspaper reports that a 69-year-old Dutch citizen was not located on the MSC Cruises ship when it arrived in Fort-de-France last Saturday, December 8th.

The last port before Martinique scheduled on the cruise was Philipsburg, St. Maarten on Friday, December 7th. The unidentified passenger was last seen Friday night on the balcony of their cabin by her husband.

The newspaper concluded that “most likely hypothesis would be a fall” from the cruise ship” estimated at 30 meters.

The ship left Fort-de-France at its scheduled departure time of 11:00 p.m. on Saturday.

A helicopter and Navy jet conducted a search for the woman after he was not located on the cruise ship on Saturday morning in Martinique. The search was called off on Sunday, December 9th following which transmissions of the missing passenger continued to be circulated to merchant ships in the area.

This appears to be another case where a cruise line failed to have an automatic man overboard system installed on the ship. Such systems automatically send a signal to the bridge when a person goes over the railing. The cruise ship can quickly try to locate and rescue the person using sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology.

Numerous experts have recommended such state-of-the-art MOB systems like this and this. The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 requires such systems for cruise ships calling on U.S ports, to the extent that such technology if available.

The last man overboard occurred on November 22, 2018 and involved a Royal Caribbean crew member who apparently jumped from the Adventure of the Seas.

The majority of cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, do not have such systems installed, claiming that the overboard detection technology is not reliable, as recently reported by the Miami Herald.

MSC Cruises, ironically, is one of the few cruise lines that has installed such technology on at least one cruise ship, the MSC Meraviglia.  MSC Cruises stated last year that it was planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

According to Seatrade Cruise News, MSC Cruises developed an “intelligent video capturing and analysis system” in collaboration with security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 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%.”

Seatrade also explained that the data and images are analysed 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.

We have criticized MSC in the past because crew members and passengers have disappeared from ships without this type of technology.  Brazilian crew member Simone Scheuer Sousa disappeared from the MSC Musica last year. MSC’s untimely response to an overboard passenger early last year from the MSC Divina further demonstrated the need for an automatic man overboard system.

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has estimated that, before this latest overboard, at least 322 people have gone overboard from cruise ship since 2000 and at least 22 people this year.

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December 14, 2018 Update: Miami Herald Search called off for Dutch woman who went overboard on MSC cruise ship.

Photo credit: Neptuno1976 CC by SA 3.0 commons / wikipedia.

 

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