In the late afternoon of Thursday, April 12th, a woman fell overboard from the P&O Pacific Dawn. The ship was on a seven-day trip from Brisbane, Australia to Vanuatu. At the time of the accident, the vessel was located 150 nautical miles off the coast of New Caledonia, battling rough waters. Reports say that the woman went outside because she was seasick. When she did, an intense wave crashed into the ship and swept the woman overboard. Other passengers explain that waves were crashing halfway up the ship and that the water was extremely choppy.
The woman was traveling with her husband and children at the time. Her husband, who saw the accident take place, immediately went into shock. Crewmembers raised the alarm at once and threw three life rings overboard. Due to the very remote location of the ship, combined with the challenging water conditions, no other rescue teams would have been able to reach the area. Because of this, the ship was required to turn back around and conduct a search on its own.
After more than twelve hours, the captain announced that they would call off search efforts, as he deemed it impossible to survive after that length of time and in those weather conditions.
With heavy hearts, we send our deepest condolences to the family involved.
Accident at Sea is a Real Possibility
In the wake of this tragedy, the reminder of how quickly accident and injury can happen at sea humbles us. While some situations are preventable, this particular situation likely was not anticipated by the guest but should have been considered by P & O. There were, it seems, a series of factors that made this overboard case more difficult than most and increased the stakes for everyone involved.
While we are grateful to the ship’s crew for its commitment to finding the missing woman, cruise ships lack properly outfitting for search and rescue efforts of an individual who has fallen into the sea, the way that rescue boats or helicopters are. As a result, the ship was truly fighting an uphill battle, but one that did demonstrate its commitment to the missing woman and her family.
Given the fact that others aboard the ship say the woman went outside to be seasick, we wonder what announcements to stay inside if any P & O made during this unusually intense storm. If P & O did make announcement, then in the future they should consider a lock down of doors leading to the vessel’s exterior when faced with similar weather conditions in future cruises. This accident as most was likely preventable had an adequate risk management assessment been undertaken before its occurrence. At times deviation from standard protocols implemented on a case-by-case basis using risk benefits analysis that take in effect all actions that both passenger and crew are capable of taking are needed. That said, we can only hope that the family involved will eventually find some resolution and closure for their grave loss.
LMAW, PA Is Here For You
At Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., we have experience handling a wide range of accidents at sea, including overboard accidents. Given our combined 100 years of practice in maritime law, we understand the particular challenges posed by this legal niche, and are prepared to provide comprehensive guidance on your case.
Therefore, if you have questions about the situation surrounding your accident or injury at sea, speaking with a maritime lawyer on our team can help. Simply contact us today and take the first step forward in getting your life back and finally putting your case to rest.