Crown Princess Cruise Ship Accident - Amtrak Train Crash in Washington State

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July 25, 2006


I just hope that the employees and the owners of any shipping lines will be prepared enough and check their facilities if all are functional knowing that they will be handling numerous lives.

After ship's officers receive rigorous simulator training and perform ship handling exercises, poor human performance, I believe, is related to the lack of 'feedback'in the real environment on a continuous basis. Although there are indications that the 'wheel'(often joystick) was turned in the wrong direction, in partial defense of the 2nd officer, there is also the possibility that 'logic masters' within the computerized navigation steering modules are 'over-sensitized' and there isn't enough of a buffer zone to allow a suitable human reaction time to interface and make a timely adjustment to the rudder/power angle.

In addition, training institutes with navigation bridge simulators may have to re-think and make adjustments, with suitable technical innovations, in this area of logic. It would also give better 'feed back' when a ship navigates in shallow water, taking into effect the hydrostatic interaction(increased draft and displacement of water with speed and the possibility of striking bottom) between the ship hull and the sea bottom.

BETHEL – It looked like a scene from "Titanic."

Bethel's Buddy Clarkson was thrown out of bed when the luxury cruise ship Crown Princess rolled / listed / listing to one side last week, then found water pouring down a stairwell outside his stateroom.

"People were wearing life preservers and there was yelling and screaming," Clarkson, 55, said Wednesday.

Five decks up, where the swimming pool had emptied of passengers, the scene was equally chaotic.

"There was broken glass and people on their backs with furniture on top of them," said Clarkson, who had been taking a nap when the accident happened.

By the time the 113,000-ton vessel had regained its balance, about 240 people had suffered abrasions, bruises and fractures in the turmoil.

At least 20 people were seriously injured and some of the older passengers complained of shortness of breath and chest pains.

"It was a nightmare," said Clarkson's wife, Susan, who was on a deck overlooking the swimming pool when the ship suddenly tilted an estimated 16 to 18 degrees to its starboard side.

"The pool emptied out with all the people in it like water from a glass," said Susan Clarkson. "People who were sitting in chairs on the deck were just pushed against the side by the others. The screaming was awful."

Susan Clarkson said although the emergency lasted no more than 45 seconds, it was "sheer terror."

"The pool water spilled into the hallways and the stairwells, and the elevators were out," she said. "One grand piano in the bar had completely flipped over."

On Wednesday, a cruise official blamed the near-disaster on human error.

Although federal investigations continue, Princess Cruises president Alan Buckelow wrote in a letter to passengers that the incident was due to human error and that "appropriate personnel changes have been made."

"We express our sincerest apologies for this regrettable event, and fully understand that this was a distressing experience for all who were on board," Buckelow wrote.

A Coast Guard spokesman declined to comment on the cruise line's statement except to say the agency's joint investigation with the National Transportation Safety Board wasn't yet complete.

At the time of the incident, seas were calm. The 951-foot vessel was nearing the end of a nine-day Caribbean cruise and was about 11 miles off Port Canaveral, Fla., July 18 when it tilted just before 4 p.m.

Company officials said the ship was on autopilot, with its captain, Andrew Proctor, away from the bridge. According to the company, Proctor has worked for them nearly 35 years and has an "exemplary record."

Company spokeswoman Julie Benson said in a telephone interview that some crew members had been reassigned but declined to give further details.

"The captain remains in command of the ship. We have the utmost confidence in him," Benson said. "It was an isolated situation and I think passengers generally understand that."

Company officials said all passengers will receive a full refund for the journey.

A similar tilt occurred in February on a ship also operated by Princess. Soon after leaving the Port of Galveston, the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess made an emergency turnaround because a passenger suffered a heart attack. The ship tipped sharply to its side, injuring 37.

The cause of that incident, too, was determined to be human error.

Buddy Clarkson chose the newly christened Crown Princess for a trip because he wanted to give a surprise gift to his wife to celebrate her retirement from the Bethel school system...

This incident is similar to the one in December 2005, when Rhapsody of the seas listed. It was really frigthening. We were all eager to check out what happened, but thought it best to wait and here from our Captian. He came on the intercom soon after the listing and reassured us that everything was fine. The wind in the gulf theat night was a bit visious and the stabblizers were not being used as (more than likely)we made better time without them!

Hanna said she had just gotten out of the swimming pool on the 15th deck when the ship suddenly went over.

"All of a sudden, one side was way up in the air and the other side was in the ocean," she said. "The pool almost emptied, I was thrown to one side and hung onto the rail for dear life. I thought the ship was about to go over."

Hanna said all the things she had with her on the deck — her glasses, camera, cell phone and a bottle of suntan lotion — ended up in the ocean. She said a large storage container on the deck came loose and toppled over on a passenger.

After about 30 seconds, the ship righted. "The captain came on the intercom and told us the ship wasn't in danger but he sounded very frightened; there was nothing reassuring in his voice," she said. Hanna, who has a heart condition, sat down on the deck in shock. She was having trouble breathing. Meanwhile, she said, the cruise staff was busy cleaning up the damage.

"They didn't seem concerned about the passengers at all, only getting everything cleaned up. Some crew members purposely blocked people from taking photographs."

Hanna said eventually Long found her and got her medical help. One of the passengers was an emergency room doctor, and he treated her in the ship's infirmary until they returned to the dock. Once there, she was taken off the boat by stretcher and spent the night in the hospital.

"I'm still very sore, but I suppose it could have been worse," she said. "It was just a very frightening experience." Before the accident, the crew reported a steering problem aboard the 113,000-ton vessel, which was christened only last month. The ship was sailing through calm seas, and there was no indication that a rogue wave or foul play contributed to the roll, officials said.

If I am injured while on a cruise ship, what type of damages can I claim?

A cruise ship passenger may recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and intangible damages such as the loss of enjoyment of life.

If the injuries occur on a cruise ship that is on the navigable waters of the United States and within the territorial waters of a coastal state like Florida then state law will generally be applied to the negligence claim and to the damages that may be recovered. However, if the vessel is outside the state territorial waters, normally three miles from land or more, the general maritime law applies and it is used to determine both liability and damages.

The Coast Guard says the ship rolled 15 degrees although passengers said they thought the tilted between 38 and 45 degrees for a full 15 seconds. One passenger says the ship tilted so far, the plexiglass windows on the pool deck are the only thing that kept him from being swept overboard.

"The captain came on and made an announcement that there was a problem with the steering mechanism and the captain sounded so terrified, which led to my feeling of more panic," said passenger Carol O’Connell. She said she saw flooding, tables overturned and broken glass everywhere.

other recent crusie ship accidents ...

First, on Wednesday, March 22, a bus went off a mountain road in Chile, killing 12 passengers who had stopped in the port aboard the Celebrity cruise ship Millennium. Most of the dead were members of a 64-member B'nai B'rith group spending their retirement together. The very next day, Thursday, a Star Princess ship caught fire in Jamaica, killing one man, injuring 11 others and damaging 150 cabins. A total of 2600 passengers had to be flown home with full refunds.Another day passed, another cruise ship accident. On Friday, the Empress of the North, a sternwheeler carrying 180 passengers up the Oregon River, ran aground. Passengers offloaded to a sister ship. It was not the first time the ship had run aground.

Three cruise ship accidents in three days? What's going on? Business as usual. Cruise ship accidents happen. A couple of months later, one of the boats on that same shore excursion capsized, killing several passengers. I noticed that news because of my experience so recently before the accident. I did not notice when 15 died on the gangway of the Queen Mary 2 in 2003, two days after Holland America's Veendam bumped into a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. Two weeks later, the Empress of the North ran aground. Yes, the same Empress of the North that ran aground this week.

Cruising is as safe — or as dangerous — as it ever was. The only difference this week was the media attention.

It took more than a dozen ambulances, several fire trucks and three helicopters at Port Canaveral to take almost 100 people from the Crown Princess to hospitals.

But as chaotic as the emergency response to Tuesday's cruise ship mishap appeared, emergency officials in Broward County say they are prepared for similar scenarios at or near Port Everglades, which is expected to host 40 cruise ships this year.

Read your ticket carefully if you think you may have a claim for property damage or personal injury. The language on the ticket may limit your rights. Often, the ticket only gives you one year to file suit and may also restrict where you can file suit. Contact an attorney immediately if you think you have a claim so that a qualified attorney can advise you of your rights. You cna contact me at the below number or at [email protected]

Enrico Schaefer, Attorney
Traverse Legal, PLC

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