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Passenger Overboard Asian Based Cruise ShipA 60-year-old Singaporean male passenger on-board the SuperStar Gemini cruise ship is missing after falling overboard near Babi Besar Island, located off the Malaysian south-east coast.  Mr. Wuan Poh Fatt was traveling from Singapore to Penang with five others.  According to on-board closed-circuit camera footage, Mr. Wuan fell overboard on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 11:05 p.m. However, it was not discovered that he was missing until the next day when he failed to respond to announcements.  After a headcount confirmed he was missing, the ship’s Captain contacted Malaysian authorities who began a search of the area. According to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, search and rescue operations are ongoing.

The SuperStar Gemini is a 1,750 passenger cruise ship operated by Star Cruises, an Asian based cruise line.  In October 2015, reports surfaced of a 30-year-old Indian national man who disappeared from the SuperStar Gemini while traveling in the Strait of Malacca. The man was traveling with his extended family and they too did not realize he was missing until the next day.  The cruise line claimed the man had committed suicide but the family strongly disputed that allegation instead suggesting he had been the victim of foul play due to a fight he had with one of the ship’s officers.

On average there are 20-30 overboard incidents each year.  Although technology exits to alert cruise ships of a passengers falling overboard, not all cruise lines make use of the technology.  Additionally, despite heavily promoting alcohol use, cruise ships often have minimal security personnel guarding the ship.

Capsized-boat-Bermuda-July-20-2016-2.jpgDuring a routine safety training drill in Bermuda four crew members of the Norwegian Breakaway were injured when the rescue boat they were lowering into the water as part of the drill broke from its tethering and was left hanging by a wire. The four men fell into the water and sustained injuries. The men were treated by ship’s medical staff and transferred to a local hospital, where one of the men passed away.

Authorities are investigating the incident. The ship is expected to depart Bermuda as scheduled and return to New York on July 24.

We extend our sincere condolences to the crew members’ families and wish the three injured seamen a speedy recovery.

Barge_Paula_Lee.jpgIt is being widely reported that a crewmember suffered serious personal injury after he fell into the water while attempting to step from the aft of a crew boat to a dock, barge or other vessel engaged in dredging operations in Port Canaveral. Authorities are presently withholding the man’s name. The dredging crew is deepening and widening the entrance to the port so that larger ships can come in.

The man fell from a barge PAULA LEE Tuesday night (November 10th) and was injured by a pair of spinning propellers that caused him to lose one leg below the knee as well as the foot on the other leg. News reports seem to indicate the Captain of the crew boat left the engines in gear in an effort to keep the stern of the crew boat up against the dock, barge or other vessel during crew changes that take place 24 hours a day. It is uncertain at this time if dock lines and buoys were utilized to secure the crew boat thus, eliminating the need to keep the crew boat’s engine’s in gear while crew stepped across at the stern of the boat. It’s also unclear why the crew changes were not conducted from either side of the crew boat after securing the boat alongside. Paramedics credit the quick action by other crewmembers with stopping the bleeding and saving the man’s life.
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Sick Carnival Passenger.jpgThe Coast Guard released video footage of its medical evacuation of a 24-year-woman off the Carnival Imagination cruise ship. The passenger ocean liner was off the coast of Point Loma, California when the Coast Guard received a call that the woman was showing signs of an acute appendicitis. San Diego sector’s flight surgeon recommended that she be medically evacuated by one of the Coast Guard’s MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and taken to an area hospital for emergency treatment.
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Thumbnail image for Princess Sapphire.jpgPhoto credit: Cruize Cast

Last week, a Cruise Critic blog posting reported a man went overboard a Princess Cruise Line vessel, the Sapphire. The young man allegedly dove from one of the Sapphire’s decks, perhaps the highest deck–14. Per the post, the captain announced “man overboard” and others threw life jackets in order to mark the area where the man made impact with the water. The cruise ship was turned and rigid inflatable boats equipped with search lights were deployed. The man was found alive.

The reason behind the man going overboard is still unclear. While it was reported that the man intended to dive overboard, it is not known if this was an attempted suicide. Princess Cruises has yet to issue a statement regarding this alarming but all too common occurrence. Back in May 2013, the International Business Times featured an article on “How Many Cruise Ship Passengers Go Overboard Each Year?” and noted the findings of Dr. Ross Klein of CruiseJunkie.com. According to Dr. Klein, who has testified before Congress on a number of occasions and authored books like “Cruise Ship Blues: The Underside of the Cruise Ship Industry,” there were 23 passenger overboard incidents in 2012 alone. Furthermore, per Mr. Klein’s alleged statistics, he claims that nearly half of all overboard incidents since 2000, or 94 out of 200, have occurred on Carnival ships or corporate subsidiaries such as Costa, Cunard, P&O, Princess and Holland America.

Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard received a call from the Norwegian Gem, requesting an emergency medevac for a 66 year old passenger who was experiencing complications arising from diabetes. Per reports, the Coast Guard received the call around 11:45 a.m. and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched from Elizabeth City. At the time of the medevac, the woman was approximately 220 miles southeast of Portsmouth. The Coast Guard made it to the cruise ship around 2:30 p.m., evacuating the woman and taking her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. It was last reported that she was in stable condition.

Reports fail to mention how the woman’s complications were discovered in this case, but, nevertheless, a cruise ship’s prompt and adequate diagnosis of a passenger’s medical condition can some times be the difference between life and death. As previously reported by our blog, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent Franza decision now holds a cruise ship liable for the medical malpractice of its shipboard doctors. Medical malpractice cases aboard cruise ships often involve a shipboard doctor’s failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of a passenger’s condition, such as a stroke or heart attack. Luckily for this woman, it appears her condition was diagnosed by someone in time. A video of the medevac can be viewed below.

A new federal law passed earlier this month that would require the Department of Transportation to report crimes that were allegedly committed onboard a cruise ship. The new law is quite a departure from its predecessor, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which only made incident data available if the alleged crime was “no longer under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Opponents of the law maintain it is not necessary, arguing that the major cruise lines began providing crime data on their respective websites in 2013. However, it is important to note that the data provided on these websites cannot be relied on as a representative figure insofar as the rate and types of crimes that allegedly occur aboard cruise vessels. Specifically, the major cruise lines only report incidents that meet the requirements of the Cruise Vessel and Safety Act, which limit reporting to incidents involving “homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury…firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000.” Thus, if a crew member steals something from a passenger that is not in excess of $10,000, then the cruise lines are not required to publicly disclose it.
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Law enforcement from Sarasota, Florida responded to a Jet Ski accident on Sunday, June 17, 2012 wherein a man’s arm was nearly severed. According to a Sarasota Fire Rescue spokesperson, two men were riding the personal watercraft in Big Pass between Lido Key and Siesta Key. When the men attempted to jump a wake of a passing boat, the rider in the back fell off and was run over by a 26 foot cabin cruiser. The injured man was medevaced to Tampa General Hospital to have surgery to re-attach his arm.

Later that day Carlos Dominguez, a 26-year-old Sarasota man, was severely injured when he fell off his personal watercraft also in Big Pass. A spokesperson from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports Dominguez turned in front an oncoming 32-foot Intrepid operated by 43-year-old Dean Dougherty. The Intrepid ran over Dominguez while he was in the water.

Both incidents are still under investigation.

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