Failed Rescue Charge Likely False

 

You may have heard news reports about a cruise ship that allegedly failed to respond to a small boat that was adrift in the Pacific Ocean a few months ago. A fisherman and one of his passengers on the small craft died and Princess Cruises was criticized — and subsequently sued by survivor Adrian Vasquez and the victims' families — for not coming to the fisherman's rescue.

Yesterday, Princess claims it has been cleared…and you can be relatively certain the expected exoneration will not get the same exposure. But maybe we're wrong, so watch for it.

The story began when three passengers on the Star Princess reported seeing a boat that they thought might be in distress. Crew on the bridge checked it out, decided the boat was not in distress and kept going.

After exhaustive research, Princess has discovered that the "boat in distress" was not the fisherman's boat.

How so?

The passengers were bird watchers. They had sophisticated cameras and took photos of the "distressed" boat. Later, when the boat — called the Fifty Cent — was eventually found, there was video footage of the belated rescue. Princess had the photos and the video, which was recently discovered, analyzed by a photo expert who used to work for NASA.

You can see the differences in the photos here, but there are more on the Princess website, so you can make your own call. There is also inconsistencies in recorded statements by Mr. Vasquez, and some rather complicated evidence from a meteorological firm that the two vessels were not likely in position for the fishing boat to be seen from the Star Princess. Naturally, Princess is now insisting the legal proceedings be dropped and is offering, out of respect for the victims, to waive its right to recover legal costs.

For video: http://youtube/vcdw. For more photos: http://www.princess.com/news/images.

From the time we first heard of this, it struck us as being strange. We have been on a cruise ship that was used for rescue operations (in the middle of the night, so we didn't see anything but a late arrival), and we have interviewed captains about rescue operations. It was hard to believe that Star Princess captain Edward Perrin, or any cruise-ship captain, would not respond to a small boat in trouble. It's not only the right thing to do, but it's a delay that is unlikely to bring complaints from passengers about being late.

Since the alleged sighting of the boat, in March, both Captain Perrin and Princess have been taking an unwarranted beating in public. The same captain last month was praised by Canadian authorities for positioning his ships to block the wind for rescuers who rescued two sailors in stormy seas off the coast of British Columbia. Not only was that the right thing to do, but it must have shown some creativity.

The premature judgment of the captain and his cruise line was, in the end, jumping to conclusion…giving a whole new meaning to "jumping ship."


Cunard Queen Mary 2
7 nights
November 20, 2012
London, New York
Inside: $695
Cost per day: $99
www.cunard.com

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