Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Florida: Panamanian Fisherman Sues Carnival for Not Stopping to Help Boat in Distress

As a follow-up to my April 21 posting, Adrian Vasquez, 18, of Panamá, has filed a lawsuit in Miami, suing Princess Cruise Lines which is also owned by its parent, Carnival Corporation, for negligence, along with intentional or reckless omission by its crew.

The lawsuit stems from three bird watching passengers aboard the Star Princess who attempted to tell the ship's captain, Edward Perrin, that the cruise-ship was passing by a ten-foot-long fishing boat in distress on the high seas and that the ship should stop to rescue the fishermen. 

Unfortunately, the passengers were denied access to the captain and despite their plea to crew members, the captain claims he was never informed of the boat being in distress. As a result, two fishermen aboard the boat that Vasquez was on died from exposure. Ultimately, Vasquez was rescued by a vessel near the Galapagos Islands.

One of the bird watchers told her version of the incident to Don Winner, an English-language blogger from Panamá, who tracked down Vasquez. The bird-watching passengers also contacted US authorities in Miami.

COMMENT: The first thing that all novice boaters, yachters and sailors learn is their moral responsibility to render aid to vessels in distress on the high seas. Yet, the chain of command obviously was dysfunctional aboard the Star Princess.

Minimally, Carnival should have financially made things "right" with the families of the three fishermen because of the Star Princess' failure to stop and rescue the fishermen. Unfortunately, Carnival's failure to take the initiative and make a fair settlement with Vasquez and the families of the fishermen has been overtaken by events. A stranded vessel at sea is something every captain MUST know about.

As is commonly known, Carnival also owned the ill-fated Costa Concordia.