Gold Ribbon Banner
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Referring to the December 2014 edition of Sea Breezes, on page 47 there is a photo of the burnt out ss Morro Castle with some lifeboats unlaunched.

Morro CastleOn page 54 there is a photo of the half sunk ss Nicholas Paquet with five unlaunched lifeboats on the port side as the ship lists to starboard. The ss Morro Castle in 1934, had 137 deaths from 318 passengers and 230 crew, although fire was the major contributor. The ss Nicholas Paquet fortunately had no deaths. Sea Breezes, most months, records disasters at sea both historical and close to the present time. In January 2012, the Costa Concordia with some 4,000 on board after tearing a 70 foot hole in the hull on submerged rocks, ended with the starboard side immersed on a nearby shore and 32 deaths. Television news pictures, at the time, showed persons not escaping by lifeboat but sliding down the hull into the water. Whilst it was reported that the ‘Abandon Ship’ call was delayed for a long time, it seems likely that some deaths would have occurred even if the Captain had realised sooner the extent of the damage.

Page 6 shows a photo of the world’s largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas 225,528gt with 6,360 passengers and 2,200 crew - total 8,560 persons. There are ten decks above the “boat deck”. The ship has eight or nine lifeboats visible with, I presume, eight or nine on the port side. Although not visible there are presumably numerous life rafts as well. The lifeboats would each need to carry over 400 persons and would take very many minutes to load simultaneously, made more difficult in rough weather or if the ship was listing. Are these sufficient lifeboats / rafts to carry everyone on these very large ships? Since the Titanic disaster in 1912, numerous laws up to the current SOLAS regulations will require that there are. As an engineer in the 1960s, I sailed on the British India passenger cargo vessels ss Santhia and ms Dwarka. They had double banked lifeboats to ensure there were sufficient lifeboats for the ships compliment of passengers and crew. The Dwarka’s sister ship, ms Dara, sank in 1961 after a bomb explosion ignited the ship, many lives were lost as the fire spread so rapidly that many lifeboats could not be launched. During the enquiry the Department of Trade tested the speed of launching the double banked lifeboats, they recorded a time of at least 20 minutes to launch the first lifeboat, embark and lower to the water, recover the falls, attach the lower lifeboat, embark and lower it to the water, all in calm weather conditions with the ship upright! Nowadays single gravity davits are usually fitted to speed the launch of the lifeboats but can still take time to embark.

Both I and another retired ships engineer, who I meet weekly in church, served during the 1960’s and 1970’s on passenger cargo and cargo ships with weekly “boat drill” at sea, assembling on the open boat deck. In port, the drill included dropping the boats into the dock and motoring or rowing about. On one occasion, my friend had to actually take to a lifeboat in bad weather, not an experience he wished to repeat again as a trained officer. We both wonder how it is possible to safely evacuate these very large cruise liners after an incident with no clear boat deck to assemble on, rather the boats appear to be accessed from the narrow passage way of one of the lower decks. Often, many passengers are elderly and unable to move quickly. Lighting may fail and ships rarely sink vertically, listing soon after a collision so that lifeboats on the high side may not be able to drop down the hull. Whilst on the low side, the lifeboats are difficult to board as they lean away from the hull.

Have the Maritime Authorities that register large cruise liners witnessed evacuation of the full complement of the ships? A recent television documentary of the major overhaul of a jumbo passenger jet showed some 500 volunteers evacuating down the inflated ramps to simulate speedy escape following a crash landing / fire. The complement of cruise liners is six to sixteen times as many as the large passenger aircraft. I hope there will not, soon be recorded in the national press and Sea Breezes, a major loss of life from a cruise liner being too large to fully evacuate without loss of life.

E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more letters, see the latest edition of Sea Breezes Magazine
Click on the links below to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Island Princess

Most Popular

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Move to Enlarge River Terminal +

    Grimsby River Terminal Associated British Ports (ABP) plans to expand its Grimsby River Terminal to enable it to handle the world’s largest car Read More
  • At the Helm of the RNLI +

    Mark Dowie A new Chief Executive has been appointed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution to succeed Paul Boissier, who has held Read More
  • Keeping the Tyne Clean +

    Clearwater Each year, the Clean Tyne project removes around 400 tonnes of debris from the River Tyne between Blaydon and the Read More
  • First Part of Huge Port Investment Completed +

    Sheerness Port The 20-year Master Plan for boosting trade through the Kent port of Sheerness has reached a significant milestone with the Read More
  • Ship Sinks After Fire Breaks Out in Cargo +

    Grande America All 26 crew and one passenger were rescued after the roll-on,rolloff container ship Grande America, 56,642gt, caught fire and then Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Houston Ship Canal Closed After Major Fire +

    Houston Fire The Houston Ship Canal reopened to daylight traffic after being closed for nearly a week due to a serious fire Read More
  • Back Home After Eventful Antarctic Season +

    Polar Star The US Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star arrived back at her homeport of Seattle, Washington on Mar 11 after an Read More
  • Four More Giant Cranes Arrive from China +

    Zhen Hua 31 Four new Super-Post-Panamax container cranes arrived at Tacoma, Washington, from China in early March, just over a year after the Read More
  • Two Hurt as Lifeboat Falls Overboard +

    USCG Reliance Two crew members of the tanker Chemtrans Nova, 73,870dwt, had to be flown ashore for treatment after the lifeboat they Read More
  • Cutters Seize $466mn of Drugs on Patrols +

    USCG Forward At Port Everglades, Florida, on Feb 5, some 34,780lbs of cocaine with a street value of $466mn was unloaded from Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3


  • Three Main Courses Being Plotted for MOL +

    MOL Triumph The major Japanese shipping line Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has unveiled a number of new objectives aimed at improving its Read More
  • Cargo Ships for Bass Strait Service +

    Tasmanian Achiever II The first of two 700 teu cargo ship for the Bass Strait route between the Tasmanian port of Burnie and Read More
  • Race to Save Coral Reef After Grounding +

    Solomon Trader A major anti-pollution operation was launched in the Solomon Islands after the bulk carrier Solomon Trader, 73,592dwt, with a cargo Read More
  • Special Place for Tanker in Port History +

    Pro Alliance The largest fuel tanker in the 220 year history of the Australian port of Newcastle, NSW, arrived on Mar 18 Read More
  • Data Recorder Recovered From Ore Carrier Wreck +

    Seabed Constructor The Stellar Daisy, owned by Polaris Shipping, of South Korea, was carrying a cargo of iron ore from Brazil to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Seeks Faster Ship Delivery +

    FFGX Rendering American News The future frigate program for the US Navy is getting fully underway and some idea of the urgency Read More
  • HMS “Dragon” in £75 Million Narcotics Seizure +

    HMS Dragon British News Whilst on patrol in the Gulf, the Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon seized and destroyed ten tonnes of Read More
  • New Generation of Enterprise Confirmed +

    USS Enterprise American News On 31 January, the US Department of Defense announced the awarding of a block buy contract with Huntington Read More
  • Brazil to Take Over HMS Clyde +

    HMS Clyde British News It has been announced by the Brazilian Government in early December that the Falklands Patrol ship HMS Clyde Read More
  • Navy And NASA Complete Recovery Test +

    USS Anchorage American News In what might be seen as a return to the heady days of NASA’s Apollo moon program, the Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Favourite Claymore +

    Claymore A poster of Llandudno pier prompted a memory from ex Calmac chief engineer Charlie McCurdy as he took another trip Read More
  • Baltic Battery Power +

    Aurora Scandinavian and Baltic operators seem to be leading the way in reducing ferry reliance on fossil fuels. Read More
  • Electric Solutions +

    Polarkunsult Ferry A new ferry will replace the 1992-built MF Herjólfur to the Westmann Islands and will be in line with Iceland’s Read More
  • Variety of New Builds +

    Red Kestrel I am gratified to hear at Cammell Lairds and Red Funnel have a particularly good record in ordering from UK Read More
  • Scottish Ship Shuffling +

    Caledonian Isles To Scotland now, and Calmac continue their shuffling of ships between routes, this time Arran’s mainstay Caledonian Iles having rudder Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Thames Tributary Barges +

    Lady of the Lea Most of the rivers flowing into the Thames had their own barge type. Read More
  • Dry Rot and Dry Dock +

    HMS Victory For some time Victory, the 110gun ship of the line, has had trouble with dry rot and is in danger Read More
  • Everards Eulogy +

    Greenhithe Scottish maritime interests particularly may mourn the loss of Geo Gibson. Read More
  • Welsh Port Gentrification +

    Penarth In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • Sussex Sterns +

    Edward and Mary and Valiant In the Victorian era, there were many coastal places where craft worked off open beaches. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Red Funnel’s New Ferry Arrives +

    Red Kestrel Red Kestrel, the newest addition to Red Funnel’s fleet, arrived at her new home in Southampton on 18 April. Read More
  • Keeping an Eye on the Weather +

    Royal Charter storm I was intrigued to read recently about the career of Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy (1805-65). Read More
  • Port of London Trade at 10-Year High +

    DP World London Gateway Trade through the Port of London reached 53.2 million tonnes last year, a level last seen over a decade ago. Read More
  • Northlink Celebrates Apprentices +

    Paul Wheelhouse NorthLink Serco Northlink Ferries has been commended by the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse, for developing young Read More
  • An Auction with no Buyer +

    Falls of Clyde I was reading recently about the unsuccessful auction to find a buyer for the Falls of Clyde, the last remaining Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Seadream Yacht Club to Build New Ship +

    SeaDream Innovation For over fifteen years, the SeaDream Yacht Club has operated two yachtlike ships, on 7 to 15-day voyages. Read More
  • Tradition Plays Its Part +

    Prana by Atzaro If ever proof was needed that traditionally built craft can still play a part in the luxury charter market in Read More
  • MV "Magellan Explorer" +

    MV Yet another new and modern expedition vessel custom built for Antarctic air-cruises will make her debut in 2019. Read More
  • The Saga Continues +

    Saga Discovery Saga Adventure SAGA Cruises has announced it is taking up an option for it’s second new ship to be built at the Read More
  • Reconstruction of “Danah Voyager” +

    Danah Voyager Reconstruction of redundant offshore oil industry tonnage turning them into luxury superyachts is not a new phenomena, but recent photographs Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places


Victoria High and Dry

Five-hundred years ago, Ferdinand Magellan sailed out of Seville, Spain, on one of the most memorable discovery voyages ever made, Read More
Christina O

From Warship to Superyacht

Rescued twice from the scrapheap, Captain Michael Howorth charts the fall and rise of one of the world’s best known Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

SS Eastern (2)

MT Arthur Foss

“The last vessel to escape Wake Island before Japanese forces captured the island” Read More
SS Eastern (2)

Rescue of Crew Member From Tanker Avanti

Captain A J Murdoch served with Eastern & Australian Steamship Company until he retired in 1982. Hailing from Melbourne, during Read More
  • 1
  • 2