MIAMI, Florida–The body of a female passenger who had gone missing from a Tirenia ferry has been located two months later in the ship’s ventilation shaft. The female passenger was aboard the MV Sharden, a ferry which can carry almost 3,000 passengers and 850 cars, back to Genoa after having vacationed in Sardinia, Italy with her husband. According to reports, the couple had been resting on sunbeds aboard the boat when his wife disappeared. The captain then ordered the ship personnel to conduct a search of the entire ship. Sadly, his wife could not be found, leading to the conclusion that she either had fallen overboard or had been the victim of a crime. However, two months later, her dead body has been found in the ship’s ventilation shaft. According to an autopsy report, she had died the night after she had disappeared
There have been incidences in the past where a passenger has reported something falling from above, believing it to have been a body falling into the water. The cruise ship company would then do an investigation on board the ship, determining that a passenger was indeed missing. However, at that point, precious time had passed before the authorities were notified and the search and rescue efforts started. This meant that usually the passenger was not found.
In 2010, President Obama signed into law legislation called the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which in part addressed overboard passengers, what Congress believed to be a serious problem with the cruise ship industry. Not only did Congress address the problem that these incidents were not always reported, as there were no mandatory reporting requirements that applied to the cruise ship industry at the time, but there was also a concern with delayed search and rescue efforts once a passenger was reported overboard. The legislation called for implementation of available technology, which would enable ships to immediately detect when someone had fallen overboard, prompting quicker search and rescue efforts.
Although the most plausible reason a people disappears is that he or she went overboard, there is a possibility that passengers could disappear somewhere on the ship, as was the situation on the Sharden Ferry. This case illustrates that available technology should make it easier for any kind of passenger ship to locate a missing passenger. Although used for different purposes than what is stated in the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, implementing this available technology on a ferry carrying almost 3,000 passengers would have enabled the ferry to confirm that the passenger did not in fact go overboard, and would have prompted a more thorough search on board the ship for the passenger, possibly leading to the location of the passenger in the ventilation shaft. The ship personnel may have looked in places they do not normally look had they ruled out the option that she had fallen off the ship.
The husband admitted his wife must have wandered into the engine room, as she often becomes disoriented. However, he still believes that his wife would still be alive today had the crew carried out a more extensive search of the ship. There are no details at this time regarding the extent of the crew’s search.