Articles Tagged with “Cruise Ship Lifeboat”

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The disaster that shook the passengers of the Costa Concordia when the ship ran aground and capsized near the Island of Giglio, Italy, while probably the most tragic in recent memory, was not the first tragedy of its kind.

In 1998, the Monarch of the Seas had an eerily similar incident, which, thankfully for the thousands of passengers on board, did not result in the loss of a single life.


On December 15, 1998, the cruise ship, Monarch of the Seas, operated by Miami based cruise company Royal Caribbean Cruises, was in the Bahamas, en route from St Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to Martinique. The ship had purposely deviated from its intended course in order to sail into St. Marteen to disembark a sick passenger who needed immediate hospitalization.

While the vessel awaited the return of the vessel’s crew, the ship drifted freely on an easterly heading. At about 1:25 a.m., the doctor and nurse returned to the vessel. The ship’s master himself then piloted the ship to starboard from an easterly course heading, steadied the vessel up and set a departure course of 160 degrees true to pass east of a marked reef known as the Proselyte reef. This course was based largely on the master’s mariner eye as well as on the Officer of the Watch’s feedback that the Automatic Radar Plotting Aid’s calculated Closest Point of Approach to the Proselyte reef lighted buoy on the 160-degree course. The master felt that this course provided the vessel a safe passage to the east of Proselyte reef as well as would allow a safe passage astern of an outbound sailboat that was just to the south and ahead of the Monarch of the Seas in the vicinity of the Proselyte Reef lighted buoy.

Unfortunately, the course of 160 degrees was established without first sufficiently determining the initial position of the vessel. Further, no track line for the 160-degree course was laid down or marked on the navigational chart in use at the time nor was the 160-degree course part of the voyage plan from St. Maarten to Martinique. Additionally, the ship’s chart used at the time of the grounding, was not updated with respect to an updated position of the lighted buoy on proselyte Reef.

The ship’s master steered the vessel on the right path before handing over the navigational watch to the Officer of the Watch. Before leaving the bridge, the ship’s master asked “How are we doing with clearance to buoy?” To this the Officer of the Watch replied “Closest point would be three cables off and safe.

Three minutes later, at approximately 1:30 a.m., the Monarch of the Seas raked the Proselyte Reef at an approximate speed of about 12 knots without becoming permanently stranded. Almost immediately emergency and abandon ship signals were sounded and the crew and passengers were mustered at their abandon ship stations.

To learn more about the events described above, read the Joint Report of Investigation into the Circumstances surrounding the grounding of the Monarch of the Seas.

At 2:35 a.m., the vessel was intentionally grounded on a sandbar in Great Bay, St. Maarten. The evacuation of passengers and crew began immediately and by 5:15 a.m., all 2,557 passengers were safely evacuated ashore by shore based tender vessels.

The Joint report by the United States Coast Guard and the Maritime Investigator (Osla, Norway) concluded that the primary cause of the grounding was human error by the ship’s master and his Bridge Resource Management Team. Multiple failures were assessed including:
(1) Accurately determine the position of their ship in relation to a known reef area.
(2) To navigate their ship in a manner which would give wide berth to such a hazard.

The investigation on the Costa Concordia disaster is still in its early stages, and yet an enormous amount of information and reliable evidence has already surfaced. It seems established that the ship deviated from its original course. Unlike the ship’s master of the Monarch of the Seas, Captain Francesco Schettino’s deviation was intentional and not necessary. Read this article to find out why Captain Schettino sailed so close to the Island of Giglio.
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A common carrier has a continuing duty and obligation for the care of its passengers. Its duty is to warn of dangers known to the carrier in places where the passenger is invited to, or may be reasonably expected to visit. This duty extends throughout the length of the voyage, and does not cease at each port of call, only to resume when the passenger re-embarks. Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., S.A., 475 So.2d 248 (Fla.3d DCA 1985)

lifeboat.jpgOn the second day of a seven day cruise, Passenger Doe became ill and began vomiting blood. He presented to the cruise ship’s infirmary, however, instead of receiving life saving medical care, or being evacuated to a proper medical facility, the ship’s medical doctor and Captain made the decision to place him and his wife in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, in the dark of night, and transport them to a coastal village in a foreign country.

In desperate need of a blood transfusion, he was brought to a makeshift medical facility. After a horrific trip, and in dire need of blood transfusion, Mr. Doe and his wife were told that the facility did not have blood readily available to him. The facility attempted to get blood, but when the blood finally arrived, it was frozen and had to be thawed under heat lamps. The thawing process took several hours, and before any blood could be transfused into Mr. Doe’s body, as he laid on a gurney, with his wife at his side, he died. Teh couple forty-year life together ended in the most atrocious of circumstances.

This awful event was even more tragic because this elderly couple spent their lives helping other people. When this couple went into retirement, they served as missionaries traveling throughout North America in their mobile home to various Christian ministries providing carpentry, plumbing, painting, electrical help, as well as tutoring to the poor and needy. Sadly, when they needed help, no one was there for them.

The cruise ship injury lawyers at Leesfield & Partners fought for justice and were able to reach a confidential settlement with the cruise line. In addition, the cruise line assured our client that because of this tragedy measures had been taken to ensure that an event like this would never happen again. They promised that rather than evacuating dying passengers on life boats, they would try their best to heliport injured passengers to avoid further delays in getting medical treatment offshore. They also promised to make sure that injured passengers would be taken to well-equipped medical facilities and hospitals and avoid at all costs evacuations to small clinics that do not have the personnel, manpower, and most importantly, the proper medical equipments to not only save lives but stabilize patients in need of immediate medical attention.
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