Sadly, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has suspended its search for the 31-year-old male team member reported missing and confirmed overboard from Holland America Line’s MS Koningsdam.
The initial missing person report was made late Monday, August 8, 2022, but the search operations were unsuccessful in locating the crew member.
Rescue Search Ends
The search for the missing crew member, a 31-year-old man, was suspended shortly before noon local time on Tuesday, August 9. The search had been initiated at approximately 10:45 p.m. on Monday night, and Coast Guard assets arrived on site in the Gastineau Channel where the missing person report was made at roughly 11:15 p.m.
USCG crews searched by air and water for over 10 hours before canceling the operation. Overall, the search covered 38 square nautical miles (nearly 44 square miles).
“The decision to suspend active searching is based on a number of factors including weather, sea state, water temperature, and other variables,” said Ens. Maximilian Carfagno, command duty officer at Sector Juneau. “The Coast Guard’s condolences go out to the family of the missing man during this difficult time.”
At the time of the missing person report, the water temperature near Juneau was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). At that temperature, and without thermal gear or other protective measures, average survivability is just 3.5 hours.
In addition to the U.S. Coast Guard crews, Juneau Police Department and Capital City Fire and Rescue also participated in the search.
MS Koningsdam and MS Eurodam also joined the search until being released by the Coast Guard. MS Eurodam first reported the man overboard after hearing shouting coming from the water, and it was confirmed that the crew member was missing from MS Koningsdam.
Both Holland America Line ships had spent Monday in port in Juneau as part of their regular itineraries, and continued on their respective sailings after being released from search operations. No delays have been reported with their voyages.
Why Searches Get Suspended
Ultimately, when it becomes increasingly impossible for an individual to have survived in the weather, water temperature, or wave conditions in a search area, man overboard searches are suspended. In these unfortunate instances, it is unlikely that any remains or evidence may be recovered.
This could be due to water currents, wildlife activity, or other factors. It is difficult indeed for the family members and friends of the missing individual.
“All of us at Holland America Line are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time,” Holland America Line said in a statement. “We are offering counseling services to team members and guests who may have been affected by this incident.”
There have been several other tragic overboard incidents this year.
In May, a woman was reported overboard from Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice also near Juneau, and that search was suspended after nine hours without locating the woman. At that time, the water temperature was even colder than this most recent incident – just 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius).
Similarly, in April, a passenger went deliberately overboard from Carnival Cruise Line’s flagship Mardi Gras near Port Canaveral. That search was suspended after 58 hours, having covered 2,058 square nautical miles without locating the individual. In warm, calm Caribbean waters, a person overboard could survive for far longer than in the dramatically colder waters of Alaska.
Other overboard incidents in 2022 have been reported from Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady as well as Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Horizon and Carnival Valor, and Azamara Cruises’ Azamara Quest.