Tag-Archive for » Ship safety «

Baby’s Cries Save Man Overboard

Any parent will likely agree nothing good can happen when a baby cries and cries and cries in the middle of the night.

Until now.

Heather and Daniel Felton of Louisville took their 13-month-old daughter on a Disney cruise. In the middle of a January night, little Katherine delivered one of those early wake-up calls that exhaust parents, and in this case a trip out onto the deck seemed wise, if only to keep from waking the neighbors.

And that’s when the unimaginable happened…

It was early enough that only the three of them were on the deck of the Disney Magic. The ship was off the coast of Mexico, near Cozumel. The Feltons heard a noise from the water. Disney MagicThen they heard it again. They ran to the rail and looked down, where a man in the water was going by and calling for help.

She alerted the crew. Within 30 minutes, the ship had turned around and launched a (hopefully) rescue operation.

"The odds of him being rescued, being seen…it was a little too much…I know Heather got emotional," Daniel told Lexington TV station Lex18.com.

Crew members jumped into a small rescue craft, found the victim, identified as Frank Jade, and brought him on board. He’d fallen off Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. He’d been in the water for five hours. When he left the Magic at Punta Lagosta, one of Cozumel’s piers, Jade was reported to be stable with no serious injuries.

While in the water, Jade said he was shocked nobody noticed that he’d gone overboard. Cruise law attorney Jim Walker said Royal Caribbean should be embarrassed that “it lost a passenger at sea” and that the cruise line “has made no efforts to comply” with [safety rules] which require “the installation of overboard systems” on Oasis of the Seas.

Meanwhile, Baby Katherine is being celebrated as the world’s first 13-month-old lifesaver.

Today at portsandbows.com: Silversea stepping up

Norwegian Getaway
7 nights
February 7, 2015
Miami (return): St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

The Triumph Fire That Refuses To Go Out


This week, CNN broadcast an investigation into the Carnival Triumph "tragedy" — the five days the disabled ship spent floating without power in the Gulf of Mexico, a cruise which has indelicately been labeled "the poop cruise." Don't expect to find that listed on any cruise ship itinerary.

Having read and heard much about this cruise over the last 10 months, there were two things that jumped off the TV screen at us, one of which we'll address today, and the other tomorrow.

In years of cruising and talking to cruise employees, specifically captains of the ships, the one subject that brings a sobering almost fearful look to their eyes is "fire." While there's a certain irony that fire is the greatest fear on a ship that's surrounded by water, it is by far the worst thing that can happen at sea, so you would think the people who maintain ships would go to the ends of the earth (or the horizons of the sea) to make sure there would never be a fire on a ship…as much as anybody can ever make sure.

Drew GriffinIn CNN's investigation, reporter Drew Griffin discovered (with the help of a Texas attorney), that the Triumph diesel generator where the fire began last February had been "overdue for maintenance" for more than a year, a fact stated time and again in Carnival's own documents. Also that the ship's technical condition was "out of compliance" with SOLAS standards (the acronym stands for Safety Of Life At Sea).

Fires can be accidents…even when faulty generators or fuel lines (also mentioned in CNN's investigative report) are the cause. In the case of the inappropriately-named "Triumph" it certainly appears that somebody at Carnival — a technician, a mechanic, an inspector, a manager or somebody up the food chain who counts the bean$ — dropped the ball.

Or the fire extinguisher.

Tomorrow: What's in your contract?

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas
4 nights
February 6, 2014
Tampa (return): Cozumel
Inside: $364
Cost per day: $91

Carnival Safety Pinned On New Man

A former rear admiral from the U.S. Navy, Richard J. O'Hanlon, once commanded the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

But can he bring an end to the jokes about Carnival Cruise Lines that are nuclear for the cruise business, and viral for everybody else?

For the last three years of his career, O'Hanlon was commander of the Naval Air Force Atlantic, the logistic and administrative command for all Naval Air Forces, overseeing a crew of 40,000 men and women.

But how is he going to be convince the cruise customer that accidents won't happen?

Richard O'Hanlon's most recent employment was as COO of Talon Air, a charter service with 25 corporate aircraft.

Now he is Carnival's CSO (Chief Safety Officer…the proper term is V-P, Nautical and Safety Operations) for the 24 ships that belong to the world's biggest cruise line.

The cruise corporation has turned to the respected ex-rear admiral — rear admirals always command respect — to repair its battered image when it comes to ship safety. He will specifically address things like bridge procedures, nautical operations and firefighting and life-saving systems.

If you don't think this appointment is important, you haven't been subjected to Carnival jokes for the better part of a year now. One of the corporation's ships (outside of the cruise line's 24) capsized off Italy and 32 people perished. Another caught fire off the coast of California, marooning passengers in deplorable conditions for days. The same thing happened to another in the Gulf of Mexico and, in part because the media was starting to see a trend, continues to make headlines — and punchlines — today.

The safety bucks stops here.

Presumably, rear admirals have thick skin and tough rules. For a cruise line that rightly or wrongly has become a safety subject of slapstick, it seems like a good move.

Star Princess
15 nights
December 5, 2013
Los Angeles (return): Honolulu, Nawiliwili, Lahaina, Hilo, Ensenada
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $84

Maritime Lawyer Raises Questions

Like most people who cruise, we tend to accept the occasional accident or fire or incident on a cruise ship. Yet we do so without knowing what "occasional" really is.

Jim Walker thinks he knows. Walker is a well-known "maritime" lawyer, which means he provides a legal voice to anybody in the cruise industry who needs it, specifically passengers. He is probably a thorn in the side of cruise line owners and surely he keeps them on their toes.

Because of his vested interest, you can take Mr. Walker's criticisms with a grain of sea salt. After his latest opinion on the industry's safety record, however, the word that sticks on the screen is transparency.

Are cruise lines really transparent?

Walker thinks not. Attending a state-of-the-industry presentation at the Cruise Shipping Miami convention last week, he listened to cruise line CEOs say that the industry is "highly regulated" and that fires on ships are "very rare" and that cruising is the "safest, safest, safest" way to vacation.

Then he pointed out on his website — click here to read all of his comments — that there have been 90 cruise-ship fires in 23 years and that the U.S. really has no way of regulating ships that fly foreign flags, as 99.9 per cent of all cruise ships do. One contextual note about the fires:  We don't know if this includes fires like a cigarette in a waste basket or if all are of a more serious nature.

His research, vested as it may be, does cause all of us to wonder…

Are cruise-line executives completely honest or are they merely spin doctors? What kind of transparency is reasonable to expect? Is cruising as safe as we like to think it is?

Or have we left our heads in the sand on the beach of some sunny port?

Carnival Legend
12 nights
July 3, 2013
London (return): Copenhagen, Berlin, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Amsterdam
Inside: $749
Cost per day: $62

Costa Concordia: Something Good

The cruise industry will always remember the Costa Concordia. If it's not a modern-day version of the Titanic, its impact on the industry is of titanic proportions.

That part happened on Thursday, eight months and seven days after the Concordia keeled over in Mediterranean waters off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.

Thursday's fallout was this:

At least once every six months, crew members on ocean-going cruise ships must undergo rigorous training with lifeboats, simulating actual emergency conditions. Lifeboats will be filled to capacity with other crew members and lowered into the water, so that crew members know exactly what to do in an emergency. All crew members involved in "operating or loading of lifeboats" must attend the drill.

Training begins immediately.

Who says cruise lines have to comply?

The Cruise Lines International Association and the European Cruise Council will order all its members to implement the new policy, which is called Life Boat Loading for Training Purposes. That pretty much covers all major cruise lines.

The review that led to Thursday's announcement began right after the Concordia wrecked on the rocks and turned onto its starboard side. It still sits in the waters where the accident occurred and it will be sometime next year before it is returned to port.

To all cruise lines, passenger safety is the No. 1 priority because, frankly, it's the one thing that can topple the entire fleet of lines. That's now less likely to happen, thanks to the Concordia.

But that's what everybody thought before the fateful Friday the 13th in January, too.

Holland America Zaandam
14 nights
November 17, 2012
San Diego (return): Hilo, Honolulu, Nawilwili, Lahaina, Ensenada
Inside: $999
Cost per day: $71

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