Neither the master of Star Princess nor its officer of the watch were told by staff that passengers had spotted a disabled fishing boat in distress, says the ship operator Princess Cruises. Two of the three men aboard the fishing vessel later died of thirst.
The fishing vessel Fifty Cents had been disabled and drifting for 16 days when its crew saw Star Princess. Attempts to attract the notice of the cruise liner apparently failed. The distressed vessel was spotted by passengers on Star Princess who told a crew member but the information was not passed to the bridge.
The lone survivor was rescued near the Galapagos after a total of 28 days at sea.
An internal investigation is underway to determine why the message did not reach the master or OOW.
Says Princess Cruises: “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.”
Princess Cruises is owned by Carnival Corporation.