I have previously written about lifeboat accidents, safety boat accidents, and other types of rescue boat accidents, occurring with frequency on cruise ships. The most recent catastrophe has occurred on Royal Caribbean’s brand-new mega cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas. Unfortunately, I have handled many of these type of cases ranging from minor injuries to fatalities, as well as cases where the accident resulted in paralysis. Other lifeboat and rescue boat accidents have resulted in serious physical and psychological injuries.
I have determined that these accidents are occurring because of the faulty designs of the major safety equipment, inadequate maintenance, and a lack of proper procedures for conducting the safety drills. We had previously written about Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world. It measures about the length of four football fields, and is longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower, carrying 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew members.
Although this is a brand-new cruise ship, apparently the lifeboat failed during an attempted lifeboat safety drill, breaking loose from its apparatus, falling 33 feet (10 meters) into the sea, resulting in the death of one 42- year-old Filipino cruise ship crew member and four others catastrophically injured.
Our law firm is currently handling other similar types of accidents with catastrophic injuries, and are learning more and more about the defects in these safety boats on board the cruise ships, and the fact that the cruise ship companies have ignored the issues surrounding the lifeboats, which has resulted in more catastrophic injuries and deaths. We believe a claim for punitive damages is warranted because of this. Obviously, a lifeboat or rescue boat should not plummet to the sea during its normal operation.
There is also the question whether cruise ship crew members should be riding these lifeboats and rescue boats up and down during these safety drills. One cannot imagine what would have happened had this occurred during a rescue of all of those passengers and crew members aboard the Harmony of this the Seas if a fire had broken out or some other type of disaster requiring evacuation. We have written about the dangers of a cruise ship fire, which includes the process of evacuation of thousands of crew members and passengers. If the rescue boats and lifeboats are not safe, this is an additional danger and risk to the crew members and passengers on board cruise ships.
I have insisted that there is a need for immediate intervention into the cruise ship industry regarding these rescue boats and lifeboats, the design of them, the proper maintenance and inspections, and the proper training on how they should be operated. An accident like this simply should not happen, and unfortunately happens way too many times, causing needless injuries and deaths.
Brett Rivkind, a maritime lawyer for over 30 years, has appeared before Congress to speak out on the need for cruise ship safety and security laws. He continues to be a major advocate for those injured at sea. He is always available for consultation on any type of maritime incident involving serious injury or death.