UPDATE: Did a Cruise Ship Captain Ignore Another Vessel in Distress?
Update: Official Princess Cruises Statement on Star Princess Controversy
Princess Cruises deeply regrets that two Panamanian men perished at sea after their boat became disabled in early March. Since we became aware of this incident, we have been investigating circumstances surrounding the claim that Star Princess failed to come to the aid of the disabled boat, after a crew member was alerted by passengers.
The preliminary results of our investigation have shown that there appeared to be a breakdown in communication in relaying the passenger's concern. Neither Captain Edward Perrin nor the officer of the watch were notified. Understandably, Captain Perrin is devastated that he is being accused of knowingly turning his back on people in distress. Had the Captain received this information, he would have had the opportunity to respond.
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.
We deeply regret this incident and are continuing our investigation to fully understand the circumstances.
Reports are circulating that Princess Cruises is launching an internal investigation surrounding claims that one of its ships passed a distressed fishing vessel near Panama last month. Passenger witnesses have reported that they clearly spotted a person waving wildly from the boat, calling for help.
A small group of birdwatchers aboard the Star Princess cruise ship reported seeing a man waving his arms and a red cloth from a small boat, while using their binoculars. This occurred on March 10th during one of the ship’s four-week cruises. The group reported their sighting to a crewmember aboard the liner, who then allegedly conveyed the message to the bridge.
However, the vessel did not stop or change course. The bird-watching trio also attempted to notify the Coast Guard and other maritime authorities about the boat in distress.
The fishing boat was found off the Galapagos Islands by a commercial fishing vessel almost two weeks later. Only 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez survived; his two friends perished during the 28 days at sea, according to the Miami Herald. During an interview, the sole survivor indeed confirmed that a cruise ship had passed them and that the pictures that the witnesses later showed were of the boat he was on.
A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said the reports have not been verified at this time, but an internal investigation is underway. International maritime law says a ship must render aid to a vessel in distress. Princess Cruises is owned by Carnival Corp., which is based in Miami.