A 22 year old man sadly went overboard on The Independence of the Seas at 2am this morning. As an ex crew member of the Indie this is the worst news. The news link is below but let me talk you through the safety procedures on board the ship.
If a man overboard is reported (this is done by someone calling 911 which goes through to the bridge) there is an alert over the loud speaker which is “Oscar Oscar Oscar”. All the crew members know exactly what this means, some will be called to action, some will not. Generally speaking the guests on board will not know “Oscar Oscar Oscar” or what it means.
The crew member closest to the scene is encouraged to throw a life ring overboard and also continue to look at the man overboard, or at least in the direction if its too dark to see. The crew member on scene ideally should also point at the area out at sea, to keep track of the guest in the water.
So essentially this is what would of happened at 2am last night, life rafts would have been launched and the ship should have stopped as soon as “Oscar Oscar Oscar” is sounded.
Its not a bad procedure and the crew practice drills each week to ensure the ship is ready for such an emergency.
So lets go back to the title a minute, why he may have been saved if the ship was a Carnival Cruise Line. I have worked on both Carnival and Royal, as you can imagine there are plenty of differences, on Royal for example the safety training is 2 weeks long, Carnival just a day. That said Carnival have an amazing man overboard process.
Firstly there is no code name like “Oscar”, if there is a man overboard on a Carnival ship everybody will know about it. The loud speaker will announce in all parts of the ship “Man Overboard, Man Overboard”. Royal Caribbean don’t like to announce anything bad to their guests to make sure everybody has a pleasant time. Carnival are a bit less caring about that and would rather save a life. The theory is if everyone knows there is a man overboard they will run to the side or any place with a view to try and spot the person in the water. This helps the crew immensely, a body at sea is very hard to spot if you are on your own but if hundreds are looking you have a much better chance.
The other thing that Carnival will do that Royal don’t is throw anything in the water. Carnival encourage anything that floats to be thrown over. The reason for doing this is obviously there’s more to hold onto if the person in the water can reach it but also the crew can see the flow of floating objects and track where the person may be.
The difference is really Carnival seem to value the life. The ship shuts down and everyone appears to be involved in the rescue, including the guests somewhat. Royal keep things quiet and has a specific task force in place to do the rescue mission in private.
Which is better? Who knows.