After one of its ships passed a stranded fishing boat without offering assistance on March 10, Princess Cruises, a Carnival-operated company, released a statement on Thursday, claiming there was a miscommunication. Two fisherman aboard the boat died as their only life line sailed away.
The men in the fishing boat who died were lost at sea for 28 days. Only one of the three men in the boat survived the ordeal. Passengers on board the Carnival Star Princess Cruise Ship reportedly saw the boat drifting in the water, but the cruise liner did not offer any assistance, reported the Inquisitr.
On Thursday, Princess Cruises concluded that there appeared to be a breakdown in communication in relaying the passenger's concern, the company said in a statement.
Neither the captain of the ship, Capt. Edward Perrin, nor the officer who was on watch had been notified of the stranded boat.
Understandably, Captain Perrin is devastated that he is being accused of knowingly turning his back on people in distress, the statement said. Had the captain received this information, he would have had the opportunity to respond.
The Star Princess is a luxury cruise ship that is operated by Carnival, reported NPR. The ship reportedly carried 2,000 people and has four pools, a nine-hole putting golf course and a casino.
On March 10, a bird watcher from Portland, Ore., Jeff Gilligan saw the fishing boat through his binoculars. The ship was nearly a mile away.
We put our scopes on it, he said, according to NPR, and we could see a moderate-sized boat with a person standing up in it, waving a dark piece of cloth.
Another birdwatcher, Judy Meredith from Bend, Ore. also saw the boat and new the people were in distress. None of the individuals watching the tiny fishing boat saw a motor on it, but they were able to determine that the people on board were trying to get the attention of the cruise ship.
This has already been weeks now, and we're just sick about it, said Meredith, according to the Miami Herald. It's like you're in a car and you see somebody bleeding in a big car accident and someone else driving the car won't stop. You see it, you're just haunted by it.
Meredith said that she attempted to call the ship's bridge and alert the crew, but she only find the ship's sales team. A man there offered to help
He called the bridge and I sort of talked through the story, she said, reported NPR. And I was trying to have a sense or urgency in my voice - and tell them that the boat was in distress, and they were trying to get our attention.
A crew member then took Gilligan's powerful telescope to look at the drifting ship, he said.
We were a bit relieved because he had confirmed that he had seen what we were describing, he said. We expected the ship to turn back or stop or something.
However, the vessel kept sailing, leaving the stranded fishing boat in the water. Meredith and Gilligan were stunned.
Maritime lawyer Charles Lipcon said that international law requires vessels to stop and help any stranded ship in trouble, reported the Miami Herald.
If it fails to do so, they're liable for what happens, he said. If there's any doubt, the captain has to make absolutely sure whether they're in distress or not. He's got to stop.
The cruise liner said they understand the law and would have acted appropriately, if the captain was informed.
We all understand that it is our responsibility and also the law of the sea to provide assistance to any vessel in distress, and it is not an uncommon occurrence for our ships to be involved in a rescue at sea. In fact, we have done so more than 30 times in the last ten years, the company said in a statement.
When Meredith returned home, she attempted to see what action Princess Cruises took to ensure the safety of those on board the lost fishing boat. Meredith said she was told that the Star Princess contacted the boat and that they asked the ship to move to the west, because they didn't want their nets to be damaged. And that the ship altered course. And they were waving their shirts because they were thanking the ship, she said, according to NPR.
Eventually, Meredith and Gilligan learned that tat the Ecuadorean coast guard picked up the small fishing boat near the Galapagos Islands. Only 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez survived the ordeal.
It keeps going in my head: Should we have done something different, should we have pulled some kind of alarm thing on the ship? said Gilligan, according to the Miami Herald. We were sure that the bridge had the information. We told the guy from the ship who came out, 'If they can't see in the bridge what we're describing, tell one of them to come down and look through our scopes.' His response was: 'They have binoculars.' We never heard from them again.
Don Winner, who operates Panama-Guide.com, contacted Vasquez. He showed him a picture that the bird watchers took of the boat.
That's us, Vasquez said, according to Panama-Guide. Winner asked him if he recalls seeing the Princess Star.
Yes, we saw a cruise ship, Vasquez said. He said one of the other fishermen, Oropeces Betancourt, 24, died the following day. Another fisherman, Fernando Osario, 16, died five days later.
However, Princess Cruise said they are continuing the investigation and hope that this incident never happens again.
We deeply regret this incident and are continuing our investigation to fully understand the circumstances