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Two Crew Members Killed Aboard Cruise Ship

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Two crew members have perished in an incident within the engineering compartment of a Holland America cruise ship, the cruise line confirmed. The accident occurred on Friday, March 22, 2024, while the vessel, Nieuw Amsterdam, was anchored at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. The ship had embarked on a seven-night journey from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 16.

Holland America Line, based in Florida, reported the event in an official statement but did not disclose the crew members’ identities: “On Friday, while the Nieuw Amsterdam was docked at the privately owned island of Half Moon Cay, an unforeseen discharge of steam in one of the ship’s engineering sections led to the deaths of two crew members.”

According to the cruise line’s announcement, the Bahamas Maritime Authority and the Dutch Safety Board are investigating the precise circumstances of the steam discharge. Attempts to elicit a response from the Bahamas’ Coroner’s Court for specific information regarding the identity of the crew members and the exact nature of their deaths were not successful at the time of inquiry.

However, 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.

Passenger Laine Doss spoke about the moment the captain informed the ship passengers about the fatalities, “The captain’s request for a moment of silence led us all to a deep reflection on the events.”

The cruise line also announced that counseling services are being provided to crew members needing support during this challenging period. “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,” the statement read.

Following its return to Fort Lauderdale, the vessel resumed its schedule, setting off on a new itinerary with a planned call at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

While crew member deaths are relatively rare, they underscore the potential dangers present on cruise ships. Research conducted by Bowling Green State University shows that between 2000 and 2019, there were 623 reported deaths on cruise ships, with 89% of these being passengers and the remaining 11% crew members. The pandemic has also seen non-coronavirus-related fatalities among crew members stranded on cruise ships.

Coincidentally and unrelated to this incident, another mishap occurred on a Florida-based cruise ship in the Bahamas—the Carnival Freedom—where a fire in the ship’s port-side exhaust funnel caused a stir among passengers on Saturday, March 23 and necessitated taking the vessel out of service for repairs, according to the cruise line. There were no casualties reported.

In a Sunday statement, Carnival Cruises recognized accounts from witnesses who claimed to have seen signs of a lightning strike or heard thunder before the fire broke out.

Passenger Heath Barnes recounted the ship’s diversion to Freeport for an unplanned stop due to inclement weather and strong winds when the fire broke out. “I was taken aback,” he stated. “Seeing black smoke and flames coming from the back of the cruise ship isn’t normal.” Barnes also described hearing “a deafening thunderclap, the likes of which I’ve never heard” just before the fire.

The cruise company reported that the crew successfully put out the fire.

The cruise line indicated that after an evaluation by their technical team, it was decided that the damage was significant enough to require immediate repairs before the ship could resume its regular sailing schedule. The funnel’s condition was secured, and the plan was to have passengers return to Port Canaveral while the ship headed to Freeport for the necessary repairs.

Carnival Cruises mentioned that the damage was more extensive than initially assessed, leading to the immediate need to fix the funnel. This situation led to the cancellation of upcoming cruises set to depart from Port Canaveral on March 25 and 29.

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