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.

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

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

An adult male passenger is reportedly missing from the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship and is believed to have gone overboard before the ship arrived in Progreso, Mexico today.

The Carnival cruise ship left Mobile, Alabama on December 15th at 4:00 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Progreso, Mexico today at 8:00 a.m.

According to the Cruise Life Cargo Facebook page, announcements were made via the Fantasy’s onboard PA system last night that a guest was missing on the ship.

We are currently on the Carnival Fantasy at port in Progreso, MX. Last night there were announcements board cast through…

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The Facebook page reported that there was a search by Carnival crew members as the Carnival Fantasy sailed toward Progreso. Approximately five and one-half hours after the Carnival cruise ship reached the Mexican port, local authorities boarded the ship with a search dog to try and locate the missing passenger.

Posted by Cruise Life Cargo on Monday, December 17, 2018

The missing man was reportedly on the autism spectrum, although there was no conclusion offered why he went overboard.

This is the fourth person who has gone overboard from a cruise ship in less than one month. All of the disappearances involved circumstances where the ship did not realize that the passenger (and in one case a crew member) went overboard.

None of the cruise ships seemed to be equipped with a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which would immediately notify the bridge that a person went over the railing. Such systems utilize sophisticated motion detection, infrared and radar technology that can track the person at night in the water.

For the few cruise lines which have invested in such technology, the system can substantially increase a ship’s response to a guest or crew member going overboard. Most importantly, the system can significantly improve the likelihood of a ship conducting a successful search and rescue.

One such system, by MARSS MOBtronic, has been commercially available since 2010.  There are a number of other reliable MOB systems readily available to the cruise lines.

For cruise lines which have not invested in the technology, ship personnel are forced to conduct a search of the ship, review hours of CCTV images, and, in this case, request local authorities to board the ship with a search animal to conduct manual searches of the ship. Such efforts are usually futile.

Carnival has apparently not located CCTV images of the person going overboard and it has no idea when or why the incident occurred. It apparently did not request assistance from either the U.S. or Mexican coast guards to conduct searches at sea.  In the last overboard from a Carnival cruise ship (the Carnival Victory three days ago) Carnival was quick to announce that the guest allegedly went overboard “intentionally.”

The Carnival Fantasy has continued on with its cruise to Cozumel (scheduled to arrive tomorrow morning) and is scheduled to arrive back to Mobile on the morning of December 20th.

Cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein reports that 24 people have gone overboard from cruise ships this year. That’s an average of 2 a month.

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

December 19, 2018 Update: 

Carnival has to review hours of CCTV and invite the Mexican Navy aboard with a search dog to try to locate a passenger?

WKRG New5 Cruise passenger with special needs confirmed dead.

Photo credit: Carnival Fantasy (top) – Carnival Cruise Line; bottom – Cruise Life Cargo.

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.

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

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 number of cruise passengers on the Adventure of the Seas inform Cruise Law News that the captain announced to the cruise ship yesterday that a crew member disappeared from the ship.

The Adventure of the Seas was in Cozumel when the captain made an announcement that an unidentified crew member could not be accounted for and was missing from the cruise ship.  The crew member did not appear at his work station and the remainder of the crew was unable to locate him.

The fact that a crew member could “disappear” without a trace from the cruise ship indicates that Royal Caribbean has still not bothered to install an automatic man overboard system on this ship. Auto-MOB systems like this or this can detect a person going over the rails and send a signal to the bridge so that the ship can immediately search and try to rescue the person. Such systems consist of state-of-the-art motion detection sensors, thermal imaging and radar technology.

As matters now stand, when a crew member (or passenger) goes over the railing, unless an eye-witness observes the person going overboard and promptly reports it to the bridge, the ship will sail on, usually at night, without anyone knowing that a person is missing from the ship. It is not until some time after the crew member fails to show up to work that the ship will make any effort to search for the person.

Usually, the crew will search on the ship for the missing crew member and the staff captain or security chief will eventually look through any CCTV images to search for any clues whether the crew member jumped overboard.  (The vast majority of crew members who disappear at sea do so intentionally; whereas, most passengers go overboard due to gross over-intoxication).

This leads to extraordinary delays in the ship’s search and rescue efforts.  For example, in Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas, we explained that when a crew member jumped overboard early in the morning (around 5:15 a.m.), the absence of an auto-MOB caused a series of unreasonable delays in searching for the employee.

A couple of year ago, I wrote about the problem of crew members going missing from Royal Caribbean and Celebrity 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.

The flag state (usually the Bahamas) usually does not even investigate when Royal Caribbean reports that a crew member has gone overboard.

The passengers who informed us that a crew member is missing from the ship in this latest case mentioned that the captain announced that a “care team” would apparently be arriving on the ship, although it is less than clear whether this was for the crew’s welfare or the guests’ benefit.

Royal Caribbean’s failure to install the proven life-saving auto-MOB technology reflects an callous indifference toward hard working crew members.

We suggest reading:

Royal Caribbean Unreasonably Delays Reporting Overboard Crew Member from Vision of the Seas.

Misery Machines and Crew Member Suicides.

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

November 24, 2018 a.m. update:

Crew members are identifying the crew members as a 26 year old male entertainment staff member from the United Kingdom.

A crew member who worked with him a few months ago on Allure of the Seas stated that his manager reported that he was exhibiting signs of depression to shipboard HR. He went to the ship doctor on one occasion, a teleconference was reportedly arranged for him with a counselor, and he was required to continue his contract.

One crew member who does wish to be identified stated “Royal Caribbean does not care one bit for the safety or welfare of the crew . . . about 24 hours of the crew member going missing, the company had already contacted another employee to replace him (someone who is a close friend of the missing person)! Apparently there is no CCTV footage of him going overboard but instead of focusing on investigating what happened and supporting his family, friends and team mates, their priority is to find a replacement.”

November 24, 2018 p.m. update: Below is a YouTube video by Don’s Family Vacations which discusses the need of automatic man overboard technology. He recommends to cruise passengers that they fill out comment cards recommending that cruise lines implement the technology, particularly given the billions of dollars that the industry is spending on new cruise ships and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the refurbishment of ships.

 

November 24, 2018 p.m. update”Photo credit: Top – Brian Burnell – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Middle and bottom – Images from Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas via Bahamian Maritime Authority.

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.

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

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.

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

A passenger has been reported missing from a Carnival cruise ship which sailed from Tampa to Key West, Florida.

The United States Coast Guard is reporting that a 50 year old man may have gone overboard somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico after the ship sailed from Tampa heading for Key West. New accounts state that the Carnival Paradise notified the U.S. Coast guard around 10:00 A.M. this morning of the passenger’s disappearance.

The Carnival ship is currently on a 6 day cruise which left from the port of Tampa yesterday, May 21st, around 4:00 P.M., heading to  Key West, Florida with an additional port in Cozumel, Mexico on May 24th, and a return to Tampa on May 26th. The ship was scheduled to arrive in Key West around 11:00 A.M. this morning.

The AIS data does not show that the Paradise turned around or otherwise changed direction indicating that it may have  conducted a search for the guest. One passenger on the ship tweeted around 10:30 to 11:00 A.M. this morning “On the #CarnivalParadise … they are now doing room to room searches for a passenger. Praying he’s passed out in a room.”

Based on this information, it appears that the ship did not realize that the passenger had gone overboard as the ship sailed from Tampa overnight until this morning when it finally notified the Coast Guard around 10:00 A.M.  New accounts state that the “incident” approximately 85 miles west of Fort Myers, Florida. It is less than clear whether this refers to when the man went overboard, or the location of the ship when Carnival realized that a guest was missing, or the location when the Coast Guard was finally notified.

The cruise ship was probably west of Fort Meyers late last night or very early this morning.  It is possible that there may be surveillance film which captures the guest going overboard and the ship figured out the approximate coordinates after the fact. But the fact that passengers are saying that the ship was conducting a search of the cabins this morning (after it reported the person missing to the Coast Guard) seems to suggest that Carnival may have no idea went the guest went missing from the ship.

The man has been identified by news accounts as Brian Lamonds of Greensboro.

A local news stations is reporting that the Coast Guard has deployed a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from its station in Clearwater, a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Miami and Guard Cutter Isaac Mayo from Key West.

As I have commented on before, the failure of cruise ships to be equipped with automatic man overboard systems with modern technology to detect people going over the rails of ships and immediately send an alarm to the bridge (as well as track the person in the water with radar and infrared technology) results in confusion like this. The irresponsibility of cruise lines in not complying with the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (which requires cruise lines to install auto-man overboard systems) not only causes a delay in search and rescue efforts but forces the Coast Guard to deploy tremendously expensive assets to conduct an exponentially expanded search for the missing person.

Carnival released a statement saying: “On Tuesday morning, a male guest went overboard as the ship was sailing from Tampa to Key West, Florida. The Coast Guard was notified and is currently conducting a search for the guest. We are cooperating fully with all authorities. Our Care Team is providing support and assistance to the guest’s family.”

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

A crew member from the MSC Seaside has been reported going overboard last night south of the Virgin Islands.

A passenger on the MSC cruise ship notified me this morning of the incident.  Florida resident Brett Morphis stated that the ship used spotlights to search for the crew member starting around 3 A.M. and continuing throughout the night.  The captain of the ship made an official announcement around 7 A.M., followed by a second announcement this morning stating that the search was continuing with prayers for the crew member.  A U.S. Coast MSC Seaside OverboardGuard helicopter and a Carnival ship (the Carnival Glory) as well as smaller commercial vessels reportedly were all engaged in the search. AIS systems seems to show that the MSC Seaside turned around west of the Virgin Islands and returned to a spot where the ship believed the crew member went overboard.

It is unknown whether the MSC Seaside was equipped with an automatic man overboard system which would have instantly alerted the bridge when the crew member went over the railing.

Last October, MSC Cruises announced that it installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and is planning to deploy similar systems across its fleet of cruise ships.

The man overboard has been identified as a 37 year-old crew member from the Philippines.

A news report from Puerto Rico states that the crew member “went overboard from the seventh deck of the Maltese-flagged cruise ship at approximately 1 a.m. Wednesday. The cruise ship crew launched a search and contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at approximately 4 a.m. alerting them of the situation.”  If this account is accurate, it is unclear why there was a three hour delay by the cruise ship in notifying the Coast Guard of the man overboard.

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

MSC Cruises announced that it installed a state-of-the-art man overboard system on the MSC Meraviglia and is 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. 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. 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 earlier this summer. MSC’s untimely response to an overboard passenger from the MSC Divina, the first person reported overboard this year, illustrated the need for an automatic Security Today MOB man overboard system.

Seatrade Cruise News has recently focused on man overboard systems. In September, it interviewed Captain Reidulf Maalen of Global Maritime Services about a system called the “Multi-Sensor Offshore Safety System (SOS).” The SOS is advertised as “an automatic alert system that employs advanced integrated sensor technology to instantaneously detect anyone falling overboard in real time and immediately alert the bridge.”

Earlier this month, Security Today featured an article titled Man Overboard! which explained the need for an automatic man overboard system, stating that “man overboard events continue to be a common occurrence within the cruise industry.” The article discussed a system designed by PureTech Systems which uses thermal video technology which captures images of people going overboard.

The PureTech website explains that “man overboard events continue to be a common occurrence within the cruise industry.” Since 2005, 268 people have gone overboard from cruise ships; on average, 22 people fall off a cruise ship every year; and 86% of those victims do not survive or are never found.

These systems are in addition to several other systems which we have written about over the years, including the MOBtronic system designed by MARSS.

An article by Captain Abdelkhalik Kamal Eldin Soliman Selmy in the Maritime Executive titled Boost to Man Overboard Detecting Regulations Needed explains that the number of man overboard situations “is increasing as cruise passenger numbers increase,” yet cruise ships monitor their decks and sides only with surveillance cameras. Most cruise lines do not actively monitor their CCTV surveillance cameras and there is considerable delay between a report of a missing friend or loved one and the ship finally taking action to initiate a search.  But equipping cruise ships with advanced detection and alert systems (such as those discussed above) will dramatically decrease the potential for crew or passengers to be lost at sea.

Unfortunately, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) does not mandate the use of such technology. Trade organizations, like the Cruise Line International Organizations (CLIA), unreasonably resist the move toward this life-saving technology, citing a myriad of excuses (alleging the cost and unreliability of the technology) which are belied by the success of the systems which are available on the market today.

In response to Captain Selmy’s article, CLIA wrote an editorial which the Maritime Executive published titled Man Overboard Incidents Are Uncommon On Cruise Ships containing the usual self-serving opinions by the cruise industry trade organization that “cruise ships remain one of the safest ways to travel.”

The fact of the matter is that over 22 people disappear each year from cruise ships (and only 13.8% are saved). Unfortunately, CLIA has chosen to minimize cruise passengers and crew members disappearances at sea in misleading PR releases rather than devote resources toward improving safety. Most cruise line do not see the need to invest in MOB systems which do not return a direct financial profit to the penny pinching cruise industry. Companies like MSC Cruises, unfortunately, seem to be the exception rather than the rule in implementing the life-saving technology.

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

Image credit: Security Today

Video credit: PureTech Systems

WNEM reports that Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut joined the family of George Smith to plead for a federal law to protect cruise passengers.

Senator Blumenthal and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts have introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2015. WNEM says that the new law will:

  • Require vessels to integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers and detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.
  • Improve medical standards aboard cruise ships.
  • Require vessels to be staffed with an appropriate number of sea marshals, who have been certified by, and are operating under the jurisdiction of, the United States Coast Guard.
  • Establish the Department of Transportation (DOT) as the lead federal agency for consumer protection for cruise ship passengers, similar to the role the Department has in aviation consumer protection.
  • Give consumers a clear upfront summary of the restrictive terms and conditions in cruise contracts. The Secretary of Transportation would develop standards for the cruise lines to provide prospective passengers with a short summary of the key terms in the contract. Consumers would be able to read a plain language summary of the key rights and limitations that passengers have during their cruise so they are fully aware of what rights they have, and don’t have, before they book their tickets.
  • Establish a consumer complaints toll-free hotline telephone number, give the DOT the authority to investigate complaints, and create an Advisory Committee for Passenger Vessel Consumer Protection, which would be charged with evaluating current consumer protections and generating recommendations for improvements.
  • Require the reporting of crimes against minors to the list of currently reported crime statistics.
  • Address crimes on cruise ships by strengthening video surveillance requirements in public areas, and setting requirements for the amount of time cruises lines must retain videos.
  • Establish a victim advocate to be the primary point of contact in assisting victims, including helping the victim to understand their rights in international waters, get access to appropriate law enforcement and consulate services, and have access to necessary victim support services.

  

WNEM TV 5