Sailing on large cruise ships to exotic places around the world has become a major element of the vacation industry in recent decades. These huge, ocean-going ships, are like floating cities, with all of the conveniences of home and more. They can provide all kinds of entertainment while underway and offer a wide variety of experiences to their guests while in port. They have become very popular, and millions of people take advantage of these pleasurable opportunities every year.
This past week, one of these Caribbean cruises became a nightmare for one man and for his family aboard one of Carnival Cruise’s massive ships. The 28-year-old man had been at dinner with his sister in the evening and had left the table after dinner to use the bathroom. If you have been on one of these cruises, you know that there are many distractions available on board, and when he did not return immediately, it would not have been thought unusual, as he just might have gone off to do something else on board.
The next morning, the sister checked on her brother’s cabin, but he was not there. You can imagine the slow-rising sense of concern, then the leap to panic when, after reporting this to the crew, a ship-wide search for the man returned fruitless. The cruise ship immediately reversed its course to start a search for the man, retracing its route. The ship also reported the incident to the United States Coast Guard at New Orleans, who then became involved in the search as well.
Now, you can imagine that searching for a single person in the ocean’s vastness would be like the proverbial search for “a needle in a haystack.” In fact, the area that the Coast Guard began to search was about the size of the state of Massachusetts. It would seem reasonable to think that the success of such a search would be “nye on to impossible.” And you would not be wrong in thinking so.
But sometimes things happen that can be called serendipitous, or even miraculous. Other ships, like merchant ships in the area, were also notified about the “man overboard” incident on the Carnival cruise ship, so they too had people on the lookout for the man as they sailed. It was, in fact, a mariner on one of those merchant ships who luckily spotted the man dog-paddling in the light swells of the Caribbean.
The Coast Guard was called and given the coordinates, and they then went into action. The video you will see here was taken from the Coast Guard helicopter out of the Coast Guard station at New Orleans District. The rescue took place at night, so the video is dark and grainy, and the audio of the pilot and crew’s communications is grainy, but you can hear and see what is going on. You can see the rescue swimmer being lowered into the water and beginning to swim toward the man. Then you can see the basket bringing the man up to the helicopter and, finally, the rescue swimmer being hoisted into the helicopter.
This potentially tragic story, thankfully, has a great end. The 28-year-old man was taken to the medical facilities associated with the Coast Guard station and was reported to be in stable – even good – condition, suffering from a slight case of hypothermia and dehydration after floating in the water for almost 24 hours.
The incredible value, skills, and professionalism of the United States Coast Guard have been demonstrated once again in this successful rescue at sea. They are the best of the best at what they do, and they have, once again, proven themselves to be up to their motto: Semper Paratus! “Always Prepared!” Bravo Zulu, Coasties!Whizzco