Saga Cruises Instructed To Improve Safety Procedures Following Overboard Accident

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

An investigation into an overboard cruise accident involving two crew members falling overboard during a lifeboat drill has resulted in Saga Cruises being told they need to improve their safety training procedures. The crew members fell approximately 72 feet from the Saga Sapphire into the water after slipping from the roof of a lifeboat while the ship was berthed at Southampton in March. The vessel had just finished a refit and was getting ready to set sail on a delayed maiden voyage.

According to authorities, no passengers were onboard the Sapphire cruise ship at the time of the accident and both crew members were safely rescued, only suffering minor injuries. However, an inquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Board revealed that the workers were not wearing safety harnesses when the incident occurred. One of the crew members, a cook on his first posting to the ship, did not receive training for his specific role. In addition, the investigation 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 any changes that were made to the ship’s equipment and procedures. The refit on the vessel, formerly Bleu de France, took over a month and the ship’s maiden voyage with Saga had been delayed following a 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 MAIB report.

The delays limited opportunities to carry out the safety drills onboard, which led to crew members being improperly trained on lifeboat procedures. Saga must now revise their safety policies to prevent a similar cruise ship accident from occurring should there be an actual emergency onboard.

While the two crew members luckily did not sustain more serious injuries, several accidents occur on cruise ships because of a lack of crew member training. The Costa Concordia tragedy was just the most recent of several accidents in which crew members were blamed for chaotic emergency procedures and a lack of overall experience in safety matters. Anyone who is hurt or killed onboard a vessel because of someone else’s negligence is entitled to seek legal help. If you were involved in a cruise ship accident, turn to our attorneys to file a claim and protect your rights.

Our experienced cruise accident attorneys will work to help you and your loved ones obtain compensation for your pain and suffering. Call our firm today to schedule a confidential consultation.

PHOTO CREDIT: John Galligan Travel