Pilot Dies After Falling Into Sea While Boarding Cruise Ship

Despite the best efforts from crew members of Diamond Princess, a 59-year-old Japanese pilot did not survive while boarding the Princess cruise ship.

A maritime pilot responsible for guiding the Diamond Princess into the port of Nagasaki was involved in a tragic accident that ultimately led to the loss of his life.

The experienced pilot fell into the sea while attempting to board the cruise ship and, despite the efforts of the crew to rescue him, was pronounced dead two hours later.

The accident underscores the daily risks that pilots face as they perform their essential role in ensuring the safe navigation of large cruise ships and other vessels into ports worldwide.

Tragic Accident Claims the Life of Maritime Pilot

On the morning of May 5, 69-year-old Yoshihiro Osuga, a maritime pilot with over 15 years of experience, was preparing to board the Diamond Princess cruise ship from a pilot boat when he fell into the sea. 

The ship was approximately 4 kilometers northwest of Iojima Manahana in Nagasaki. The Diamond Princess immediately launched its rescue boat, and the crew managed to retrieve Mr. Osuga. However, he was found but sadly passed away.

Cruise Ship Pilot
Cruise Ship Pilot: (Photo Credit: Stories In Light / Shutterstock)

Maritime pilots are essential for the safe navigation of large ocean-going vessels into ports. These professionals undergo rigorous training to ensure they can guide ships through various waterways. They often face dangerous conditions while climbing onto ships on small rope ladders during heavy seas and high winds.

Read Also: What Does a Ship Pilot Do?

In this case, the sea was reportedly calm when Mr. Osuga tried to board the Diamond Princess. Mr. Osuga was also wearing his lifejacket and, as mentioned before, was a highly experienced pilot.

This has led the Japan Coast Guard to investigate whether the pilot boat shook or hit Diamond Princess and caused Mr. Osuga to fall while transferring to the cruise ship.

Diamond Princess Crew Trained to the Highest Standards

The crew members aboard cruise ships, such as Diamond Princess, but also maritime pilots, are all trained to the highest possible standards and undergo regular reviews of their training. This includes being up-to-date with STCW. 

The “Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping” (STCW) serves as the mandatory training and certification benchmark for all seafarers worldwide. Every leading flag state adheres to this international standard to ensure the highest level of safety and competence among maritime professionals.

Diamond Princess Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Kevin Hellon / Shutterstock

Onboard training is also an ongoing feature, ensuring that the crew is always prepared for any situation. Their quick response to the accident and the deployment of a rescue boat to recover Mr. Osuga demonstrated their dedication to safety.

Crew members onboard the Grand Princess showed their rescue skills just weeks ago, when they rescued two sailors during the midnight hours off the coast of Australia.

The Diamond Princess continued its journey, docking at Nagasaki and departing the same day for Yokohama. This indicates that there is likely no fault from the cruise ship in the accident.

The Diamond Princess sails in Asia year-round, offering various itineraries to destinations such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. 

Over the coming months, the ship will embark on a series of cruises, including a 6-night Korea & Japan Getaway, a 13-night Southern Islands & Kyushu cruise, and a 7-night Southern Islands cruise.

Ports of call include Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka, Kagoshima, Kochi, and Nagasaki in Japan, Cheju in South Korea, and Keelung in Taiwan. 

Later this year, the 115,875 gross tons Diamond Princess will also be sailing to ports in Thailand and Vietnam.

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