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Saga Cruises Works To Improve Safety Training Procedures Following Crew Member Accident

November 13, 2012

Saga Cruises has been instructed to improve its safety training procedures after a crewmember accident that took place during a lifeboat drill. The crewmembers fell 72 feet into the water from the Saga Sapphire ship while it was berthed at Southampton last March. The ship had just finished a refit and was getting ready to set sail on a maiden voyage that had been delayed.

No passengers were onboard the vessel at the time of the accident and both crewmembers were safely rescued. Miraculously, the men only sustained minor injuries. Regardless of the extent of their injuries, though, when an accident occurs onboard a vessel, whether at sea or in port, crew members have a right to seek legal help. As in this case, the cruise line may be held responsible for the incident, and if so, victims may be eligible to receive compensation for their pain and suffering.

Saga’s safety procedures came into question following an inquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Board. The board discovered that neither crewmember was wearing a safety harnesses when they slipped from the roof of one of the lifeboats. One of the crewmembers – a cook on his first posting to a ship – did not even receive formal training for his role during the emergency drill. Furthermore, the report also found that “training oversight was inadequate, no one took responsibility for lifeboat training and the ship’s safety management organization was improperly prepared for its operational role.”

The Acromas Group, parent company of Saga Cruises, has initiated a review of the refit operation that led up to the accident and has begun making changes to equipment onboard the vessel, as well as lifeboat manuals and emergency drill procedures. The vessel was formerly known as Bleu de France and was refitted in Palermo, Italy. Saga’s maiden voyage had been delayed and the vessel experienced a separate problem in the engine room.

“The planned refit completion date was February 17. However, industrial action by dockyard workers and fuel tanker drivers, as well as emergent lifeboat defect rectification work, delayed Saga Sapphire’s handover to Acromas Shipping Ltd until March 16. The late departure resulted in the loss of a non-revenue shakedown cruise from Monaco and the delay of the first revenue-generating cruise, planned to depart from Southampton on March 26, until April 3,” read the report.

The delays left the captain little time to carry out safety drills and according to the report, poor safety standards for lifeboat preparations and an overall lack of crewmember training contributed to the accident.

“We have worked with the MAIB in reviewing the findings of the report. We accept their recommendations and are implementing them,” said Robin Shaw, the shipping company’s managing director.

While neither of the crewmembers involved in this accident were seriously wounded, accidents onboard cruise ships and cargo vessels occur frequently – usually because of cruise operator negligence. Anyone who has been hurt or killed while working for any type of vessel may be eligible to file a seaman’s claim and we are here to help. Contact a crew claims lawyer from our firm today to discuss your options and protect your rights.

PHOTO CREDIT: DP Operator (dpoperator.blogspot.com)

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