Accident on Cruise Ship: 2 Crew Members Dead

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An accident on a Holland America cruise ship resulted in the deaths of two crew members, the cruise line confirmed. The event took place on Friday, March 22, 2024, while the ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, was stationed at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. The ship began its seven-night voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on March 16.

The Florida-based Holland America Line disclosed the event in an official statement, without revealing the identities of the crew members. The statement read, “On Friday, while the Nieuw Amsterdam was anchored at the privately owned island of Half Moon Cay, an unexpected steam discharge in one of the ship’s engineering sections resulted in the deaths of two crew members.”

As per the cruise line’s announcement, the Bahamas Maritime Authority and the Dutch Safety Board are investigating the exact circumstances surrounding the steam discharge.

An attorney specializing in maritime affairs from Miami reported the casualties to be third engineer Joseph Terrado and Wawan Gusnawan, employed as a wiper, a position usually tasked with the upkeep and cleaning of engineering areas. One held Philippine citizenship, while the other’s nationality remained unspecified.

Laine Doss, a passenger on the ship, spoke about the captain’s request for a moment of silence to mourn the deaths. She said, “The captain’s request for a moment of silence led us all to a deep reflection on the events.”

In the aftermath of the incident, the cruise line announced that it is providing counseling services to crew members who need support. In a statement, the company said, “This incident deeply saddens all of us at Holland America Line, and our thoughts and prayers are with our team members’ families at this difficult time.”

After returning to Fort Lauderdale, the ship resumed its operations and started on a new itinerary with a planned stop at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Although the deaths of crew members on cruise ships are relatively uncommon, they highlight the potential hazards in this industry. Research from Bowling Green State University indicates that from 2000 to 2019, 623 deaths were reported on cruise ships, with 89% being passengers and the remaining 11% crew members. The pandemic has also witnessed non-coronavirus-related deaths among crew members stranded on cruise ships.

In an unrelated incident, the Carnival Freedom, another cruise ship based in Florida, experienced an issue while in the Bahamas. A fire in the ship’s port-side exhaust funnel necessitated repair work and caused panic among passengers on Saturday, March 23. However, no casualties were reported in this incident, the cruise line confirmed.

In a statement released on Sunday, Carnival Cruises acknowledged witness accounts of a possible lightning strike or the sound of thunder preceding the fire.

Heath Barnes, a passenger on the ship, shared his experience of the fire incident. Describing the ship’s detour to Freeport due to bad weather and strong winds, he stated, “I was taken aback. Seeing black smoke and flames coming from the back of the cruise ship isn’t normal.” Barnes also reported hearing “a deafening thunderclap, the likes of which I’ve never heard” before the fire occurred.

The cruise company confirmed that the fire was successfully extinguished by the crew.

According to the cruise line, an assessment by their technical team revealed that the damage was significant enough to require immediate repairs before resuming regular sailings. The funnel’s condition was stabilized, and passengers were planned to be returned to Port Canaveral while the ship proceeded to Freeport for repairs.

Carnival Cruises stated that the damage was more extensive than initially estimated, necessitating immediate repair work on the funnel. This situation resulted in the cancellation of the upcoming cruises scheduled to depart from Port Canaveral on March 25 and 29.

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