Two crew members, reportedly working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, fell from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship near Victoria last evening, according to News 1130.

The two overboard ship workers were apparently rescued by another vessel, which has not been identified yet.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre stated that “the two were working on a lifeboat on the Explorer of the Seas, which belongs to Royal Caribbean Cruises, when they ended up in the water.”

The rescue centre says it “doesn’t know whether they were crew members or passengers,” which seems strange because passengers obviously do not work on lifeboats.

There is no indication exactly how long the workers were in the water or exactly how they fell from the cruise ship.  Royal Caribbean has work-aloft and working overboard procedures which require ship employees to be equipped with harness to prevent them from falling. Typically the work on lifeboats is permitted only after the ship employees obtain work-aloft certificates requiring that certain safety protocols set forth in the Royal Caribbean safety management system (called SQM on Royal Caribbean ship) be followed. Department heads and the staff captain typically must be aware of, approve and supervise the work.

The two workers were reportedly assessed for injuries and then returned to the Explorer of the Seas.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Update: A guest aboard the Explorer of the Seas videotaped the accident. As you can see in the video below, several crew members are in a rescue craft which come alongside the cruise ship as it is underway.  It appears that there are lines (cables) to the rescue craft, which cause the craft to turn sideways, dumping two of the crew members in the water.

Update 2: The popular Crew Center site contains additional information and a video related to the incident.

Photo credit: MarineTraffic AIS of Explorer of the Seas. Video with permission by Leslie Ippolito via Twitter.

FTI Berlin Lifeboat Non Conformity This weekend I was notified by a passenger, on a German cruise ship named the Berlin, that the ship has been stuck in Dublin, Ireland for the past several days.

I was not familiar with the cruise ship or the German cruise line, FTI, which operates it. I have learned that the Berlin is considered to be a small cruise ship, carrying a little over 400 passengers. It was built in 1980 and is flagged in Malta.

The Berlin arrived at its scheduled port of call early in the morning of June 14, 2018 in Dublin, where it has remained for the past three days. The delay has already caused the passengers to miss the remaining port of call. It appears that the passengers will be disembarked today in Dublin and flown back to Bremerhaven. Embarkation for new passengers will reportedly occur tomorrow in Dublin.

“We arrived on 14 June suppose to sail same date 17.00.  Suppose to sail yesterday then said today finally this morning captain said to guest waiting for information from the home office and port authorities.  Guests were given 250 euro on their cards and refunded their excursion fares.”

The cause of the delay seems to be a problem with one of its 6 lifeboats which, reportedly, is “out of order.”  The exact problem with lifeboat no. 6 has not been disclosed to the guests or crew but it was discovered by port authorities during an inspection on June 14th.

Maritime regulations including Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) require a minimum number of operational lifecrafts (a combination of lifeboats and liferafts).

Photo credit: Anonymous

Interested in this issue? Read Floating Drydocks at Sea – A Growing Problem? It seems that passengers on cruise lines operated by German companies are subject to  the same problems on U.S. based cruise lines.

FTI Berlin Lifeboat Non Conformity

Caribbean Fantasy FireThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its findings yesterday regarding a fire on the Caribbean Fantasy cruise ferry, operated by Baja Ferries, near Puerto Rico in August of 2016. You can read the NTSB’s summary, proable cause findings, and recommendations regarding the fire here.

We reported on the fire at the time in our article Caribbean Fantasy Catches on Fire (with video).

The ferry was carrying 387 passengers and 124 crew members as well as cargo, trailers, shipping containers, trucks and cars.

The NTSB investigators found that the fire started when a pipe leaked fuel onto an engine’s exhaust manifold. The fire spread because fuel valves were bolted open. The fire quickly spread and overwhelmed the fire-suppression system (carbon-dioxide suppression and water-misting equipment) and then burned into the vehicle and cargo areas where cars burned and explosions occurred.

After an hour, the master ordered an evacuation which took 3 hours and 43 minutes, rather than the 30 as required under the international maritime standards.  

The ferry had just three life boats which could not accommodate all of the passengers and crew,  The remainder of those aboard had to slide down emergency chutes positioned above life-rafts (we have discussed these dangerous devices in prior articles like this and this).  Five passengers were serioudly injured due to the steep descent into the life-rafts. 

Investigators found that crew members had not been trained in removing pins to deploy the lifeboats. The crew was unable to release on of the lifeboats causing two passengers to fall into the water as other passengers panicked.

A NTSB investigator stated that if the accident had happened farther from port, in rougher seas or at night, “the result could have been catastrophic,” according to USA Today

As we reported back in 2016, between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found at least 107 security deficiencies, of which 44 were related to the fire system used by the Caribbean Fantasy. The ferry reportedly had been detained three times in 2014, 2015 and 2016 because of failed inspections. 

Photographs of the fire, fire-fighting efforts and evacuation can be viewed on our Facebook page

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

Photo credit: @pjpedrojuan/Twitter via ABC News, credit to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally). Caribbean Fantasy Fire

 

M/S ArcadiaA passenger aboard the P&O Arcadia reports today via the P&O Cruises’ Facebook page that a lifeboat has broken from its cabling and has fallen from its davits into the sea while the cruise ship was in Ponta Delgada, Azores.

The passenger (who wishes to remain anonymous) states that "the back appears to have been ripped off and is still hanging from its cradle……" 

He posted two photographs on his Facebook comments to the private page (which he gave permission to post them here). One photograph (bottom) shows the lifeboat being removed from the water and the other photo shows the lifeboat lying damaged on the quayside at the port (middle0. 

There reportedly were five crew members in the lifeboat at the time of the accident. One crew member’s injuries are apparently serious enough for the ship employee to be hospitalized.

There have been a number of serious accident involving lifeboats drills during cruises over the years. Virtually all of the accidents involved crew members who were in the lifeboats when they were being lowered or raised during drills.

Last year a lifeboat broke free from the Grandeur of the Seas was in the the port of Charleston, South Carolina. No one was in the lifeboat when it fell into the water.

In September of 2016, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water.

Several years ago, the trade organization Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) announced that Arcadia Lifeboat Accidentcruise lines were prohibited by the MLO from raising or lowering lifeboats with crew members aboard. Many cruise lines have ignored this safety rule.

Eight crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill in 2013 on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed and 3 were injured.

In July of 2016, a rescue boat drill resulted in the boat falling into the water with four crew members from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was in Bermuda. Two crew members were killed and two other seriously injured.

Between these two events, there have been several other lifeboat mishaps. In January of 2016, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.

Word from the passengers on the Arcadia reportedly is that the ship has already left port to continue on with its planned itinerary. 

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

January 12, 2018 Update: UK’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) demands urgent action over lifeboat safety.

Photo credit: Top – M/S Arcadia –  Politikaner – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; middle and bottom – anonymous.

Arcadia Lifeboat Accident

Grandeur of the Seas LifeboatA lifeboat accident occurred this afternoon while the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas was in the port of Charleston.

A passenger aboard the cruise ship (who wishes to remain anonymous) informed me that a lifeboat had fallen from the cruise ship and was upside down in the water. He sent photographs of the lifeboat taken by other passengers. One photograph shows a cable which is are obviously frayed (bottom photo) and suggests that the cables may have broken and dropped the lifeboat into the water.

This raises obvious concerns that the other cables to the remaining lifeboats may be in a state of disrepair. These lifeboats carry as many as 150 guests.

It is currently unknown whether the accident occurred during a lifeboat drill or whether there were crew members in the lifeboat when it fell.

A newspaper in Charleston says that a “life raft” fell off the cruise ship, but this appears to clearly be an error. The photo above of the lifeboat upside down in the water which was sent to me can be compared to an online photo of a Grandeur lifeboat on davits (below); the metal rails on the side in both photos can be readily observed.

The newspaper reports that the U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said “staff from the ship are attempting Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboatto retrieve the life raft and a team from the Coast Guard will assess any potential pollution impacts.”

There are no reports at this time whether there are any crew member injuries at this time. The newspaper says that “there was no one was on the raft.”

This is not the first lifeboat accident on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In September, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water.

I boarded the Grandeur of the Seas last month with a maritime expert to inspect the lifeboats in a case where a crew member was seriously injured. One observation I left with was that this twenty-year old ship is a victim of deferred maintenance. You can see very heavy rust in the metal throughout the ship, particularly around the windows. Some of the rust is so serious that the windows near the upper, Granddeur of the Seas Lifeboatstarboard side near the stern have been replaced with temporary covers. (See photo at bottom). Earlier this year, another 20 year-old Royal Caribbean ship in the same Vision class, the Rhapsody of the Seas, suffered five windows on deck three breaking, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on decks two and three when the ship encountered rough weather. You can see the rusted windows here and on our Facebook page.

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

January 17, 2017 Update: The Grandeur of the Seas arrives today at the port of Miami, without a lifeboat. The Grandeur apparently left the fallen lifeboat behind in Charleston. Has the Coast Guard inspected the other lifeboats? Photo (above) via @PTZtv.

Photo Credit: middle – shipspotting.

Top – Kenneth Kozak via News2-Charleston.

Below – Anonymous.

Bottom – Jim Walker.Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboat

Newspapers in France are reporting that one crew member has been killed and four other crew members were injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France.

According to 20 Minutes newspaper, five members of the ship’s navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water. The newspaper reports that two of the crew members injured are in critical condition. The deceased crew members is reportedly a Filipino citizen.

Several years ago, the trade organization Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) announced that Harmony of the Seascruise lines were prohibited from raising or lowering lifeboats with crew members aboard. Many cruise lines have ignored this safety rule.

Eight crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill in 2013 on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed and 3 were injured.

In July of this year, a rescue boat drill resulted in the boat falling into the water with four crew members from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was in Bermuda. Two crew members were killed and two other seriously injured.

Between these two events, there have been several other lifeboat mishaps. In January of this year, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.

It is currently unknown whether a cable broke or whether the lowering mechanism malfunctioned or was performed incorrectly. 

Several years ago, Cruise Critic published an article: Lifeboat Tragedy: Did Cruise Line Ignore Safety Guidelines? It quotes an expert on lifeboat drills: "Alan Graveson, Senior International Secretary of Nautilus the U.K.-based seafarers’ union, said: "I issued instructions seven years ago that preferably nobody should be in the lifeboat during a safety drill, and if that’s not possible then there should be a maximum of two people. We also contacted Captain Ben Lyons, who has sailed as an officer on both larger mega-ships and smaller expedition ships, to get an insider’s perspective on the incident. "Lifeboat drills are almost invariably considered one of the most dangerous parts of life at sea for a cruise," he told us in an e-mail. "There is a strong sentiment amongst many seafarers that lifeboats (through drills) have killed and injured many more people than they have saved."

CLIA has removed the language of the policy from its website, but you can review a cached version here ("Under this policy, for safety considerations, the loading of lifeboats for training purposes is to be performed only while the boat is waterborne and the boat should be lowered and raised with only the lifeboat crew onboard.") 

September 15 2016 Update: Nautiluc International UNION CALLS FOR RADICAL ACTION AFTER ANOTHER LIFEBOAT ACCIDENT.

Photo Credit: By kees torn – UNION BEAR , Harmony of the Seas & EN AVANT 20.

Norwegian Breakaway Rescue Boat AccidentA number of newspapers in Bermuda are reporting that four people were injured when a lifeboat fell from the Norwegian Breakaway while the cruise ship was docked at port today.

The Royal Gazette says that one of the crew members is in critical condition at the hospital. This newspaper reports that a lifeboat had fallen from the cruise ship and “was left hanging from one wire resulting in four people falling into the water.”

Bernews reports that NCL released a statement, saying that “on July 20 while Norwegian Breakaway was alongside in Bermuda, an incident occurred involving the ship’s rescue boat during a routine drill, affecting four crew members.”

Bernews clarifies that a “rescue boat,” as opposed to a lifeboat, was involved in the mishap.  A video shows what this newspaper says is a rescue boat flipped upside down in the water with its hull partially showing.

I first became aware of the accident when PTZtv, which operates the webcam for this port, tweeted observing an unusually large EMS & police response to an incident at the port.

A year ago, two NCL crew members were injured when a rescue boat from the Pride of American fell after cables broke while the cruise ship was in Hilo.

Lifeboats accidents are not uncommon. In January of this year, a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned, during a scheduled boat training drill while the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira. Fortunately, no one was injured. In August 2015, an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship.  In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed. In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water when it was being lifted in violation of a new CLIA safety protocol. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured. It was caused by a broken cable (photograph here).

Update:  One crew member injured in the accident has reportedly died, according to NCL.

Video and photo credit: Bernews

 

Anthem of the Seas StormThe maritime blog gCaptain published an article yesterday, written by Rick Spilman, author of the well written Old Salt blog, titled Anthem of the Sea – is She  Seaworthy?  The Old Salt blog takes issue with an article I wrote several years ago entitled Are Cruise Ships Dangerously Top Heavy?

In my article I was critical of the cruise industry’s trend to build these jam-packed mega cruise ships of today – the ‘floating condo" as some call them, which "seem to be out-of-proportionally tall, perched precariously on a hull which seems incapable of safely supporting a structure towering hundreds of feet into the air."  Fours years ago, I said that these monster ships "look like condominiums ripped out of Collins Avenue on Miami Beach and placed on a barge. They look eager to tip over."

I am more convinced today of these observations after the Anthem of the Seas debacle this past week. 

Commenting on the recent fiasco, the Old Salt blog stated that the cruise ship passed the test of encountering a major storm. It said that the cruise ship "survived" what it characterized as a "full-scale blowout trial in highly dangerous conditions." It pointed out that "no one died or was seriously injured" and "the ship made it into port under its own power."

The Old Salt blog scoffed at the notion that the Anthem of the Seas was "unsafe" and concluded that the gigantic cruise ship and others designed like it "are a lot more seaworthy than they look."

But the article was published before the Coast Guard announced that one of the vessel’s two azipods Anthem of the Seas Abandon Shipmalfunctioned during the storm and that the Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating. Late yesterday afternoon, the Coast Guard stated that "during the storm the port azipod, which is one component of the vessel’s propulsion system, burned out all four clutches." Royal Caribbean, which initially denied any damage or injury to the ship or the passengers and then claimed that the only damage to the ship was cosmetic, was forced to try and quickly replace the clutches on the storm damaged azipod before the ship’s scheduled departure today. The cruise line also decided the starboard azipod ‘s clutch also needed to be replaced "as a precaution," raising the possibility that it also sustained damage during the storm.

So putting differing opinions aside, the undisputed fact of the matter is that the Anthem of the Seas sustained significant damage to its propulsion system during the storm and returned to port unseaworthy.

The failure of portions of the cruise ship’s propulsion system is very troubling  It raises an issue which I discussed in my article four years ago: "ask yourself whether you really want to take your family onto one of these floating sky-scrapper hotels when, God forbid, it loses power while encountering rough seas?"

If the Anthem’s propulsion was further disabled during the storm, the cruise ship would be in serious trouble. 

“Major casualties are the result of synergy from multiple causes. If one bad thing happens, you probably get through it,” maritime law litigator and law professor Larry Brennan told the media. “If a ship loses propulsion in a storm, it’s at the mercy of the seas. Instead of cosmetic or structural damage, there’s a much better chance that a ship can be lost.”

Cruise passengers claim that the waves crashed over the top of the lifeboats tethered along the side of the Anthem of the Seas as the ship listed heeled heavily to one side. Even if passengers could have gotten into the lifeboats, this class of Royal Caribbean ships does not have enough lifeboats for both passengers and crew members. The ship is designed such that the crew are forced to use a system of sliding down chutes into life-rafts – a dangerous design even in pleasant weather. Panic may cause the crew members and the passengers to compete to get into the lifeboats which are far safer than the life-rafts. As I explained and illustrated in my article Titanic Redux, there is a danger of the tether ropes breaking, the chutes twisting, or the life-rafts ripping away from the chutes during the type of rough weather which the Anthem faced this week.  

Of course a vessel can be unseaworthy not only when it is designed in an unsafe manner, or it is in state of disrepair, but when the vessel has unsafe procedures. The fact of the matter is that the Anthem of the Seas and other huge cruise ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet do not have a safe means of evacuating passengers and crew members at sea, particularly in dangerous storm conditions.

But most passengers don’t seem to be aware of this dangerous practice. The Anthem is claimed to be a technological marvel with all types of bells and whistles to wow the passengers: from being served by a robotic waiter to simulated surfing on the FlowRider to simulated sky diving on the iFly to riding on the North Star. But it has no way to evacuate people safely if disaster strikes, which almost happened last week.

All issues considered, I would say that the Anthem of the Seas is far more unseaworthy than it looks.

Images credit: Weather Nation YouTube – top

Fred Olsen Balmoral Cruise Hive reports that a cruise ship tender boat on the Balmoral operated by Fred Olsen Lines malfunctioned a week ago, on Sunday, January 10, 2016, during a scheduled boat training drill.

At the time of the accident the cruise ship was docked in Funchal, Madeira.

The cruise line told Cruise Hive that “this incident occurred as a result of the ship’s winches lowering the tender boat at different speeds.”

Fred Olsen also said that the winches allegedly were independently surveyed in December 2015 for Flag compliance and no issues were found at the time.

Fred Olsen flags the 28 year old ship in Nassau Bahamas.

The mishap reportedly did not cause any personal injuries to the crew members.

Lifeboat or tender/rescue boat safety drills are highly dangerous. In August 2015, while an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea was being lowered, a cable broke.  In July 2016, during a drill involving a rescue boat on the NCL’s Pride of America, two crew members were seriously injured when the boat fell from deck 6. In October 2014, a rescue boat on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped and a crew member was killed.  In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water when it was being lifted in violation of a new CLIA safety protocol. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

 

Cruise LifeboatTwo nights ago, the Thomson Dream stopped when the crew noticed an abandoned life raft. The cruise ship was sailing from Sardinia towards Naples. 

The ship stopped for around 40 mins. The crew pulled the life raft to the shell doors and then went aboard to inspect it. The life raft was brand new and undamaged. It was too big to take onboard. It had a capacity of 100 plus. It had no IMO number or other identification markings. 

The captain decided to cut the life raft free and notified the Italian coast guard. 

Several passengers on the ship have asked me for an explanation. I would think in most cases that an abandoned life raft probably broke free from the ship. But the lack of identification on the life raft is confusing. 

Anyone else run across this life raft during a cruise? Does anyone have a reasonable explanation?