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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

Photo credit: M/S Amsterdam – Crew Center

A crew member is reported missing from a Holland America Line cruise ship in Alaskan waters, according to the Alaska Anchorage News.

 

The 35-year-old crew member went overboard from the Holland America Line’s Amsterdam yesterday evening.

The male crew member was reportedly last seen on the cruise ship around 6 P.M. on Thursday.  The ship’s master was eventually notified after the crew member did not show up for a work shift.

The Coast Guard stated that “the Amsterdam crew made extensive searches of the vessel, and turned the vessel around toward its last known position to search the water . . ”

Ship officials did not notify the Coast Guard of the missing  crew member until  9 P.M. and the Coast Guard did not deploy a helicopter until 1 A.M. The helicopter crew began searching in the Sitka Sound early this morning.

The Coast Guard suspended its search this afternoon (Friday), according to Coast Guard press release.  The Amsterdam has since continued its voyage toward Victoria, British Columbia,” according to a Coast Guard press release.

According to cruise expert Professor Ross Klein, there have been 319 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.

The last person who went overboard from a HAL cruise ship was a passenger who went overboard from the Westerdam two and one-half weeks ago.

There is no indication that the Amsterdam was equipped with an automatic man overboard system, nor is there any indication that any closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) on the ship captured images of the man going into the water.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

August 7, 2018 Update:  The crew member is Rezan Monteroso. He had been on the Amsterdam for just five days, and left behind a wife and children in the Philippines. Rest in Peace Mr. Monterosa.

Photo credit: 663highland – CC BY 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

After nearly nine years, Cruise Law News has a new look.

LexBlog, my blog design and support company in Seattle, re-designed my blog. You will note that the text you are reading is black lettering on a white background, in contrast to the old format (above) with a blue background which people have told me, over the years, was a bit hard on their eyes and difficult to read.

Man Overboard – a Continuing Problem

Early this morning I posted my first article, after two Royal Caribbean crew members went overboard after falling from a lifeboat near Victoria, Canada – Two Crew Members Overboard From Explorer of the Seas, Rescued

It is less than clear how the crew members went overboard, with a news account from a local radio program stating that they were working on the lifeboat, while commentators to my Cruise Law News page on Facebook explaining that the lifeboat apparently flipped over while it was being raised.

Of course, if the crew members fell while performing maintenance then that would be in violation of the cruise line’s safety protocols which require ship employees working “aloft or overboard” to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which sometimes this cruise ignores. On the other hand, if the crew members fell after the lifeboat flipped while being raised, this would be in violation of the international maritime organization (IMO) protocols which prohibit lifeboats from being raised with people aboard, which this cruise lines also often ignores.

Meanwhile, readers of our Facebook page are commenting that “you cannot just fall off of a cruise ship” or words to this effect. But, of course, you can fall overboard if you are a crew member required to work without being provided with a fall restraint harness or forced to sit in a lifeboat which is lifted with people aboard in violation of IMO regulations.

In any event, based on the little available information, fortunately there are no reported injuries due to the mishap.

New Look – New Functions

Returning to our blog’s new format, a new feature is “Report a Tip” which you can see above near the top header. We often receive information directly from crew members or guests from the cruise ships, when things go wrong on the high seas. Cruise lines do not like to release complete or accurate information when bad things happen at sea, like when a fire breaks out or when a person goes overboard.

The motto of this blog remains “Everything Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know.” This form should make it easier to communicate with us.

Since I started this blog in September of 2009, I have written over 3,000  articles.  Thank you to the many hundreds of crew members and cruise guests who have contacted us over the last decade. Most people who contact us wish to remain anonymous.  We of course will never reveal the names or contact information of those who contact us.

The new format includes a link to our Google Analytics information, which tracks where people around the word contact us and how many pages they read. So far today, over 19,000 people have read the article which I posted this morning here on Cruse Law News.

One issue with the new format concerns me, namely our new comment system seems a bit awkward. I am wondering whether it will still work efficiently when readers wish to communicate with us.

I’m interested in what our readers think about the new look and format? Please give us your thoughts!

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Interested in this topic?  Read:

Why do you read Cruise Law News?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credits: Top – MarineTraffic; bottom – KOMO.

Seven Seas Mariner Man Overboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Overboard Norwegian Getaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit:  Shipspotting via Safety4Sea

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

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

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

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

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

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

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

The BMA reveals the following chronology:

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

Royal Caribbean Overboard Vision of the Seas

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

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

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

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

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

Vision of the Seas SQM Safety and Quality Manual Royal Caribbean

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

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

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

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.