Cruise ship crew dies after lifeboat accident
A 41-year-old crew member from the Norwegian Breakaway died yesterday after a lifeboat broke from its tethering and plunged into the water.
The Filipino was one of four ship staff rushed to the hospital after the accident, which happened during the cruise liner’s weekly safety training drill.
Among the rescuers were staff on board the tour boat Aristocat, who towed the injured man to shore. According to a police spokesman, first responders went to Dockyard just before noon.
The deceased will not be named until his next of kin can be notified; the other crew were being treated last night.
Andrew Smith, captain of the Aristocat, recounted bringing his vessel around the cruise ship’s seaward side to find an overturned boat and a man floating in the water.
“They had one of their lifeboats out but could not manoeuvre it, which I could do with mine. One of my crew, James Baxter, jumped in to help him.”
The injured man was in back and leg pain, with several bones apparently broken.
Because of the risk of moving a person with possible spinal injuries, Mr Baxter remained supporting the man while the catamaran towed him to the dock of Calico Jack’s bar, where a board could be placed under his back by waiting paramedics.
More crew and a passenger helped getting the crew member on to land.
“He couldn’t talk much,” Mr Smith said. “It was a really unfortunate situation; I feel so sorry for those poor guys.
“We are all first-aid certified, and we’ve had to deal with situations before — it’s just something we do by instinct.”
Details of the accident were unclear: according to a Bermuda Maritime Operations spokesman, the lifeboat had been left hanging from one wire.
Ambulances from Port Royal responded as well as King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, and the incident is now being investigated. Offering condolences, acting tourism and transport minister Grant Gibbons said the Department of Maritime Administration as port state inspectors would work closely with Norwegian Cruise Line, along with the Department of Marine and Ports Services.
The Norwegian Breakaway had arrived from New York earlier yesterday morning. Carrying 4,300 passengers, the ship is due to return to the East Coast of the United States tomorrow. An NCL statement said the schedule was not expected to be affected, and that the ship’s medical team provided immediate care.
“The company is providing full support and care to the crew members involved and is working closely with the relevant authorities to investigate the incident,” the statement added.