Boating Accidents, Cruise Ship Law, Maritime Matter of the Week

Coast Guard Rescues Two Ill Boaters with Help from Carnival Breeze Cruise Ship


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Although Carnival Cruise Line has been in the news for less than favorable reasons, this time one of the “Fun Ships” has actually assisted in a rescue mission, as opposed to needing one for itself.

Saving lives is what the Coast Guard dedicates itself to day in and day out. This time, the Coast Guard had some help from the Carnival Breeze, as operators were called to action to assist two sick boaters near the Florida Keys on Sunday.

According to reports, a Coast Guard helicopter crew was called to action after receiving word that a 28-foot sailboat named the Gretchen Joy had two people aboard which were suffering from maladies. The vessel was roughly 15 miles east of Elliot Key when one boater began to suffer from heart problems while the other became sick due to inclement weather.

Coast Guard Sector Miami watch standers launched both an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew and 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew to respond to the scene of the incident. Once they arrived, the helicopter crew lowered a rescue swimmer into the water, who made his way to the Gretchen Joy, however, upon assessing the condition of the two victims, he determined that a medevac was necessary. Due to the unfavorable weather conditions, which included five-foot swells, the rescue swimmer determined it was unsafe to have the sick boaters placed in the water for a basket hoist.

Instead, the Coast Guard came up with a plan that involved the Carnival Breeze. Sector Miami watch standers notified the Breeze, which was about five miles away, that their assistance was needed in the rescue mission and diverted the cruise ship to provide a more stable platform for hoisting the boaters.

Once the cruise ship arrived on scene, operators waited for the RB-M to transport the two boating victims to the vessel and once the sick boaters were aboard the Breeze, the Coast Guard began the rescue.

The first sick boater to be hoisted was the woman who was suffering with the heart condition. She was transported to Ryder Trauma Center, where she was treated and later released in stable condition. Ryder Trauma Center has helped several boating accident victims in the past who have suffered serious and life-threatening injuries and illnesses while at sea.

The remaining boater stayed onboard the cruise ship, where he received medical care. The commercial assistance provider Tow Boat US then towed the vessel to Convoy Point.

“This medevac exemplifies the great working relationship the Coast Guard has with both the commercial assistance providers and the cruise ship industry,” said Capt. Chris Scraba, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector Miami. “Often times, weather increases the level of danger and in this specific case, the cruise ship Carnival Breeze greatly facilitated in quickly getting the patient ashore to a medical facility in the safest manner possible.”

These two maritime adventures were very lucky to be within range of both the Coast Guard and a Commercial vessel that when called upon to render help did so. Unfortunately, many maritime accident victims do not survive their injuries, and those who go overboard, whether from a cruise ship or a sailboat, often drown before rescue operators can reach them.

Our maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have helped many cruise accident victims obtain justice after suffering injuries following an act of negligence or other act of negligence on the cruise line’s part. We know first-hand just how important it is for cruise, cargo and boat companies to provide a safe environment onboard for both passengers and crewmembers and how easily accidents and injuries can happen when that safety is compromised.

The Carnival Breeze stepped up to the plate on Sunday to offer their assistance, as most vessel requested to by the Coast Guard would. However, there have also been cases filed against cruise lines for their failure to report and render aid to rafters they have come upon in open ocean resulting in serious bodily harm to those rafters. Let us hope that Carnival will continue to work towards maritime safety and increased compassion for both their crew and passengers as well as all other mariners they encounter on their voyages.

Photo Credits:

Top Right: USCG arrives at Gretchen Joy’s location –

Bottom Left: USCG Response Team –

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