Coast Guard Ends Search for Overboard MSC Crew Member

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The search for a missing crew member from the MSC Seascape has come to a solemn conclusion. The US Coast Guard announced the suspension of their efforts on Wednesday evening, after an exhaustive search north of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Search Efforts Conclude Without Result

Search efforts for a crew member who went missing from MSC Seascape by multiple assets from the US Coast Guard concluded without a result on Wednesday, November 15.

The incident occurred as MSC Seascape, a 169,400 gross-tons cruise ship, was navigating the waters between San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. A 30-year-old crew member of Indian nationality tragically went overboard, initiating an intensive search and rescue operation. 

Despite the deployment of MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters, Coast Guard Cutters, and exhaustive efforts covering over 887 square nautical miles, the crew member remained unfound.

Capt. Jose E. Díaz, Sector San Juan commander, expressed his heartfelt sympathies, emphasizing the emotional toll of such incidents at sea.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and fellow crewmembers of this young man,” said Capt. Jose E. Díaz, Sector San Juan commander.  

The Coast Guard aircrew deployed a self-locating datum marker buoy, an instrument used to measure sea currents, to aid in coordinating the search efforts. 

During the operation, rescue teams located three MSC Seascape life rings on Wednesday morning, two of which were successfully recovered. However, these efforts did not result in finding any signs of the missing individual. The search efforts extended over a total of 34 hours.

The crew member fell from the vessel from a height of about 32 feet, some 80 feet from the bow of the ship.

“Losing a loved one or a fellow shipmate at sea is very difficult, may they find strength and closure during this most difficult time. I commend the efforts of all the rescue units involved in the search efforts and truly appreciate the collaboration of our fellow partner agencies for their prompt response and assistance,” Díaz continued. 

MSC Seascape Continues Voyage

The events onboard MSC Seascape serve as a reminder of the dangers that crew members face onboard cruise ships. Despite the deployment of state-of-the-art technology and extensive search efforts by both the ship and the US Coast Guard, the missing crew member was not located.

As MSC Seascape continues its cruise, sailing to Ocean Cay, and concluding its cruise in Miami on November 18, there are lessons to be learned. 

The incident should serve as a reminder of the issues that crew members face onboard. While not implicating any fault on the part of MSC Cruises, incidents such as this draw attention to the mental health challenges faced by crew members who spend extended periods away from family and friends.

MSC Seascape Cruise Ship
MSC Seascape Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Dennis MacDonald)

The demanding nature of their work, combined with the isolation inherent in long stretches onboard, can have a significant impact on their well-being.

Cruise lines have been implementing measures to support the mental health of their crew. These initiatives often include providing access to counseling services, creating programs for stress management, and fostering a supportive community environment on board. 

Ensuring regular communication with loved ones and offering recreational activities are also part of the efforts to maintain a healthy work-life balance for the crew.

However, the incident on MSC Seascape highlights the need for continued focus on mental health support in the industry and supporting those who work to make cruises safe and enjoyable for guests.

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