A passenger from a Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ship has gone overboard in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, according to the National Parks Traveler nonprofit media organization.

The Park Service issued a press release Saturday night that it had suspended its search for the missing passenger who reportedly disappeared from the HAL Westerdam cruise ship late Friday afternoon.  According to the press release, the sixty-nine year-old man was reported missing at 3:50 p.m. on Friday when he did not appear for a medical appointment on board the ship, a park release said. It is unclear when the passenger actually went overboard. KTUU reports that the man went overboard sometime on Friday morning.

The Park Service was notified 7:30 Friday evening after a ship-wide search confirmed that the HAL Westerdampassenger was missing from the cruise ship.

The Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches via vessels and/or aircraft.

There is no information regarding exactly when or where along the 65-mile Glacier Bay the man went overboard.

This appears to be another situation where the cruise ship was not equipped with an automatic man overboard system that would immediately notify the bridge when a person went over the rails and then track the person in the water via radar and thermal imaging. The officers on the HAL cruise ship apparently had to order a search of the ship to look for the passenger. HAL has not released any public information regarding whether CCTV captured images of the man going overboard.

According to Canadian Professor Ross Klein, there have been 316 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 15 people have gone overboard during the first six and one-half months of this year. Nine people have gone overboard from HAL cruise ships in the last eight and one-half years.

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July 17, 2018 Update: The National Parks Traveler writes that the passenger went overboard around 6:45 AM, according to HAL PR executive Sally Andrews. This means that there was a delay of nearly 13 hours between the passenger going overboard and the cruise line finally notifying the park service (around 7:30 PM), which is another compelling reason why cruise ships should have automatic man overboard systems installed. I previously mentioned Ms. Andrews in an article many years ago titled “Suicide” – One of the Cruise Lines’ Favorite Excuses When a Passenger Disappears at Sea.

Photo credit: Roger Wollstadt CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia.

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

Disney Cruise Man OverboardOne of my interests is automatic man overboard systems on cruise ships.

Cruise lines are super-secret when it come to whether their ships have man overboard systems and, if so, what type of system is installed.

Acquaintances of mine went on a Disney cruise in March and watched as the ship’s man overboard system was tested.

A crew member threw a rubber test dummy on a rope over the rail and logged the results whether the system detected the "person" going overboard.

An officer also talked to them about the man overboard system, saying that the monitoring equipment on the bridge is a "pain" for the bridge officers.

There is also an issue with false alarms, mostly from the ocean spray.

Anyone has details regarding what type of system Disney, or other cruise lines, is using?

Have a comment?

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Disney Cruise Overboard

Update: Credit for info below, the Disney Cruise Line Blog

Man Overboard Systems

 

 

Yesterday, a reader of Cruise Law News sent me a message indicating that Holland America Line (HAL) is announcing that it is testing a man overboard system.

The reader was a recent cruise passenger aboard the HAL Nieuw Amsterdam during the first week of this month. He mentioned that the announcement was in the ship’s “Today On Location” (daily program).  Another reader sent a similar message to me after cruising on the Westerdam (photo below) last week.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have complained loudly and often about the refusal of the HAL Westerdamcruise industry to install automatic man overboard systems, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.  The cruise industry collects over $45 billion dollars a year and pays no U.S. taxes.  Plus, it’s a personal issue with me, after representing clients whose loved ones (husband, daughter, son, brother . . . ) disappeared on the high seas under mysterious circumstances.

One of my clients, Laurie Dishman, was instrumental in seeing that the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act was passed into law. Laurie traveled to Washington D.C. over 30 times at her own expense, together with other members of the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, to lobby Congress in support of the law. A photo of Laurie with President Obama as he signed the cruise safety bill into law is by my desk. It greets me everyday when I arrive at work, and reminds me why I am a lawyer.

HAL has more than its fair share of passengers and crew disappearing at sea with absolutely no video or explanation indicating why or how the person ended up in the sea. I have written about such tragedies here, here, here, here and here. There are other cases. Thermal maritime technology has been around for a long time. Is HAL really the first to apply it to man overboard situations?

Just last week a young Indian seaman, who just joined the HAL this month as a cook, disappeared from the Ryndam cruise ship. His body washed ashore on a beach in Clearwater, Florida two days ago. The spectacle of the young man’s body being discovered with his HAL identification card in his pocket by an early morning beachcomber is a gruesome reminder that cruise lines must be forced to comply with the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act.

Did the Ryndam have an automatic man overboard system that HAL is now touting to their passengers? It doesn’t seem so. The ship doesn’t even seem to have CCTV cameras which should have captured the young man’s image as he was going overboard so that he could have been rescued.

I suppose that it’s good news that HAL is announcing that it’s finally testing an automatic man overboard system. At the same time, it’s distressing to hear that the HAL’s man overboard system is the “first ever” such system for a cruise ship. I have heard rumors that two other cruise lines may have man overboard systems, but I have seen no proof of that and there has never been any official announcement by any other cruise line.

There are hundreds of cruise ships operated by many dozens of cruise lines in the world. I suppose a cruise line that is the first to test a man overboard system should be proud of its accomplishment. But it’s a sad indictment of the rest of the cruise lines which are competing to build the biggest and best cruise ships which still have no automatic man overboard systems as required by law.

Does anyone know whether the Ryndam’s daily program mentions that it has a man overboard system? Does anyone have details about the new system?

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

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Roger Wollstadt Creative Commons 2.0

HAL Man Overboard System

Grand Princess Cruise ShipIn the last week, there have been several articles about the cruise industry’s refusal to comply with the requirements of the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act to install automatic man-overboard systems.

The spirit and intent of Congress in enacting the legislation, as expressed in several hearings in Washington D.C. which I attended over the years, was to require all cruise ships to implement system to alert the bridge when a passenger went overboard so that prompt rescue efforts could be undertaken.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of cruise lines have not invested in the available systems.

A week ago the Miami Herald first published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."   

The Huffington Post followed up with an article after a woman went overboard from a Princess Cruises ship, the Grand Princess, which apparently does not have an automatic man overboard system. The security personnel on the cruise ship were required to look through images on the cruise ship’s CCTV system to look for the incident in order to confirm that the passenger went over the rail. 

Yesterday, a local South Florida NBC television station, WPTV, published an article entitled "Cruise Lines Are Slow to Implement a Man Overboard Detection System for Passengers."  It also aired the video segment below.

Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.

Today Time magazine published an article "Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem."

The cruise lines’ refusal to comply with the law results in the U.S. Coast Guard having to deploy aircraft, helicopters and cutters over a wide search grid with the expensive and often million-dollar searches being paid for by U.S. taxpayers rather than the foreign-flagged cruise ships which pay no U.S. taxes in the first place. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 person going overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  There is no question that the technology exists to automatically and instantly detect persons going overboard. 

Supporters of the cruise industry say that the percentage of overboard passengers is small compared to the total number of people going overboard.  That may be true. But the cruise industry’s non-compliance with the cruise safety law ensures that the prospects of saving those overboard passengers are slim and their deaths are likely.

Watch the video below and let us know how you think how the cruise lines can be forced to comply with the law. Join the discussion on our Facebook page.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Ivan T.)

There have been 8 Congressional hearings in the House and the Senate since December 2005 regarding issues of cruise passenger safety. One of the most talked about problems has been the issue of passengers going over-board from cruise ships. 

Over the years, there has been a discussion about the problem and the necessity of requiring the cruise industry to install systems to detect when people go overboard from cruise ships.

The International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization has been responsible for bringing this issue to the public’s attention. The CEO of the ICV, Ken Carver, lost his daughter, Merrian Carver, disappeared under suspicious circumstances from the Mercury cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises’ subsidiary, Celebrity Cruises. Although the cabin steward knew that Ms. Carver was no longer in her Man Overboard System MOB - Cruise Shipcabin early on during the cruise, his supervisor instructed him to do nothing about it. The cruise line never reported the incident to the Alaska State Troopers, or the FBI, or the flag state. Celebrity then discarded the majority of Ms. Carver’s clothes and personal effects. You can read about the disturbing story here

Mr. Carver attended the first Congressional hearing in 2005 which was convened following the disappearance of George Smith during a honeymoon cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas.  By all accounts, other passengers probably threw Mr. Smith over the railing of his cabin, but there have been no arrests over the last 8 years.

The cases of both Ms. Carver and Mr. Smith remain "mysteries."

Mr. Carver and the Smith family founded the ICV because their children disappeared at sea under suspicious circumstances with the cruise lines being uncooperative.  

Subsequent Congressional hearings has focused on the disappearance of other cruise passengers. Although the cruise industry claims that it does not track man over-board cases, cruise expert Dr. Ross Klein has a list of over 200 people who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000.  Of course, crew members in addition to passenger have disappeared from cruise ships. 

Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary Celebrity has experienced 11 people going overboard since October 2010

In 2010, after years of opposition by the cruise industry, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act to address the issue of properly detecting persons who go overboard.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requires that ‘‘the vessel shall integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.’’ 

Three years later, it appears that few cruise ships have been fitted with the required technology.

(Editor"s note October 1, 2013: Since publishing this article, we have been informed that some Disney cruise ship have infra-red man overboard systems which are in compliance with the CVVSA, and these systems have been in place over a year).

Cruise passengers and even a larger number of crew members have continued to disappear from cruise ships without explanation. 

There is no question that the technology exists to detect when a person goes overboard which will immediately signal to the bridge, capture an image of the person going overboard, and record the exact location.  See the video in this article I wrote about man overboard systems here

But instead of installing these systems, most cruise line are still having to review hours and hours of CCTV images after a report of a man overboard is made to try and figure out when and why a person went overboard. In the case of cruise passenger Jason Rappe who went overboard from Holland America Line (HAL) Eurodam cruise ship last year, HAL did not install the required man overboard system even though several cruise passengers recently disappeared on HAL ships.  

The delay in determining when a person goes overboard increases the area which the Coast Guard is required to search by air and sea, and reduces the chances of locating and rescuing the person overboard.  It also substantially increases the expenses borne by U.S. taxpayers.  The Coast Guard expenses in the Jason Rappe search efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard were almost $1,000,000.  

Another problem also exists. If a person can go overboard undetected, then people can just as easily come onto a cruise ship undetected – like terrorists, pirates or criminals.     

Last year, Congress commented on the cruise industry’s lack of progress in implementing the requires man overboard systems. Congress commented: "the degree to which the cruise industry has complied with this requirement is entirely unclear. There may be additional camera surveillance (but no indication that this is the case), however there has not been adoption of any of the active measures recommended by the International Cruise Victims Association in discussions with the industry prior to the legislation being passed. There are many systems available, many manufactured and marketed in the U.S., but none of these appear to be under consideration for adoption, no doubt because of the cost involved."

In addition, the the U.S. Coast Guard posted a Federal Register Request for Input from the maritime security Industry, and received a number of proposals, but there is no indication that these have been acted upon. Proposals were received from Seafaring Security Systems and Radio Zealand DMP Americas, along with supporting documentation which was posted on the U.S. Coast Guard website.

I have found only one cruise line which has agreed to install a state of the art man overboard on some of its ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) recently agreed to install a system by Seafaring Security Systems on two of its newest ships which are being built.  The Seafaring company describes the "Varuna Man Overboard System," or V-MOB, as a "revolutionary system designed to enhance safety, security and situational awareness aboard ships." Here’s the company’s description of the product.  

"The V-MOB is a unique integration of advanced cameras, sensors and a customized graphic interface that automates surveillance and detection around the ship’s perimeter, alerting the crew to anomalies such as man-overboard, fires, and unauthorized boarding.

When an overboard incident occurs, the V-MOB sensors detect it, GPS coordinates to the overboard site are recorded, and designated personnel are alerted via specific alarms. The V-MOB significantly enhances the opportunity for rapid rescue of overboard personnel.

The V-MOB system detects the presence of fire sooner than contemporary fire detection systems (recent testing provided alarms two minutes before existing fire detection systems) commonly found on ships, thereby maximizing fire suppression and extinguishing efforts.

The V-MOB system also detects unauthorized attempts to board from deck railing, alerting security personnel onboard the ship to provide critical response time to meet and deal with the threat in a timely manner."

I first read about the Seafaring system in a July 24 2013 article in Maritime Executive entitled "Seafaring Security Systems Wins Surveillance Systems Bid on Norwegians New Ships."  (The article is no longer available on line.)

A system like this will reduce rescue time and expense, safe lives, and assist in apprehending criminals when foul play is involved. 

If the news is correct, then NCL should be applauded for being a leader in implementing the new man overboard technology.  It’s a shame none of the other cruise lines appear to have have done so.

 

Photo Credit: Seafaring Security Systems 

Another cruise ship overboard has dominated the cruise news lately. A couple went overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. The cruise ship did not notice that the passengers had fallen from the ship until after the cruise ship returned to port in Australia  Later, their images were found on the cruise ship’s closed circuit television (CCTV) system but the ship had already sailed to the next port at this point.

In this day and age, no one should go overboard from a cruise ship without being immediately detected. The technology exists. See the video below. There are systems in place which can detect overboard passengers and crew members, then signal the bridge, capture the images of the overboard person, and drop a buoy into the water.  The sooner the cruise ship reacts to a man overboard, the Cruise ship Overboard Detection Systemquicker emergency procedures can be followed and the greater the chances of the person being rescued.  

According to the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which went into effect last year, cruise ships are required to "integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard . . . "

Congress passed this new cruise safety act into law after listening to the testimony of families who traveedl to Washington D.C.to testify about the horror of their loved ones disappearing from cruises, like Merrian Carver and Daniel DiPiero  

But the cruise industry is ignoring the law.

The Safety at Sea magazine reported long ago that the cruise industry is unwilling to pay for dedicated man overboard (MOB) systems that detect an individual falling overboard. Equipment sellers have been rebuffed by the cruise industry, which seems more interested in investing its money into all types of new water-slides, rock climbing walls and other amusements. The cruise lines remain unwillingness to invest in life-saving overboard detection systems.

Cruise expert Ross Klein was quoted in Safety at Sea as saying that the cruise industry is “looking for loopholes” to avoid the new safety law.“

In the latest overboard case, Carnival was quick to point out that the height of its balcony railings comply with the existing safety law (42 inches) but it did not mention that the law requires a system to detect overboard persons which the Spirit obviously lacks. 

There are lots of reasons why passengers go overboard: being over-served alcohol, foolish or reckless behavior, accidents, and murder, as well as reasons not known. But most cases remain mysteries. The cruise lines don’t monitor their CCTV cameras (except in their casinos because they don’t want their money to disappear). And they have not even implemented the most rudimentary overboard detection systems.

The result is no rescue or delayed rescue attempts which are unsuccessful.  Even when there are witnesses to a person going overboard, often the captain of the cruise ship will ignore the witness accounts and continue sailing until the entire ship has been searched, leading to unnecessary delay in tragic cases like this and this. The result is also increased governmental expenses incurred due to the necessity of searching a much larger grid (many hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in deploying Coast Guard cutters and aircraft), unnecessary deaths, and unnecessary heartbreak of the surviving family members.   

Image Credits: gCaptain

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VDVodlh46uY%3Frel%3D0

Explorer of the Seas - Drug BustThe Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda reports today on what has become a routine activity when a U.S. based cruise ships arrives in port – Bermuda Customs officials taking sniffer dogs aboard U.S. based cruise ships and arresting cruise passengers for a small quantity of drugs.

This week Bermuda Customs officers boarded the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas and Carnival Pride cruise ships and conducted random searches of passenger cabins before arresting two passengers from New York.  The big bust? One passenger had just 1.5 grams of pot and 0.7 grams of cocaine.  Can you even get high on 1.5 grams of reefer? 

The other passenger had 13 grams of pot.

One contrite busted passenger told Senior Magistrate Judge Archibald Warner "I didn’t have any intention selling it or smoking it on your Island.” The Magistrate was unimpressed and fined the twp passengers a total of $2,400. 

Busting American passengers for small amounts of drugs is big, big business in Bermuda.  We have written about it time after time.  You can read our articles about the crooked way of Bermuda and minor drug busts below: 

Here We Go Again – Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Shakes Down Another Cruise Ship Pot Head

Bermuda Customs, Cruise Ship Cabins & Illegal Searches = Easy U.S. Money $$$

Bermuda Continues Cruise Ship Drug Busts

Are You a Stoner? Don’t Cruise to Bermuda!

Busted in Bermuda – Customs Officials Extort Money From Cruise Passengers By Unconstitutional Drug Searches

Magistrate Warner chastised prosecutors last year for conducting searches of passengers cabins without probable cause or a search warrant. He raised the issue whether cruise ship pot busts are Bermuda Pot - Cruise Shipslegal, "described it as “vexing” and “embarrassing” that tourists are charged for having small quantities of cannabis."

The Magistrate made these comments as he sentenced a 28 year old crewmember from Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas a 12-month conditional discharge for possessing 5g of pot.

But it looks like Magistrate Warner is now part of the official machinery in Bermuda for processing small time pot heads to increase customs revenues for the island. 

Meanwhile the Captain of the Bermuda-flagged cruise ship, the Star Princess, operated by Bermuda incorporated Princess Cruises, remains free to sail the world notwithstanding sailing by three fishermen 100 miles off the coast of Panama.  The captain’s I-didn’t-know defense stinks.  2 young men are dead and their bodies are missing at sea.

Too bad that Bermuda focuses its limited resources on cruise ship passengers who use small time recreational drugs, rather than on Bermuda incorporated cruise lines which engage in intentional dereliction of duty leading to death of young men on the high seas.