Maritime Casualties--March 18, 2010

Latest maritime casualty news.

CDC Issues 'No-Sail' Recommendation for Celebrity Cruise Ship

Hundreds of Celebrity Cruise passengers fell sick on the cruise line's third straight trip from Charleston, S.C., which the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail recommendation for the particular cruise ship.

Nearly 1,000 people got sick on the Celebrity Mercury in the last month. Over 350 of the 1,800 passengers on the ship became ill during the latest cruise which left port March 8. Celebrity Cruises cut the current voyage short by a day because of the current outbreak and the ship will stay in port until Sunday for extensive cleaning and sanitizing. The CDC's four day no-sail recommendation would push the sailing of the Mercury's March 19th voyage back two days. This will mark the third consecutive delay for this ship due to sanitation reasons.

Refunds will be offered to those patrons choosing not to go on the Mercury's next trip. Since the ship is set to arrive early Thursday morning, passengers will also be compensated for accommodations in Charleston that night.

Tests linked the first outbreak on the February 15th voyage to the norovirus, which causes acute gastroenteritis. The CDC is testing samples from previous voyages to identify if the virus affected those passengers as well. The virus spreads quickly in close quarters and proves difficult to eliminate in such environments.

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Officer Charged in Sinking of Ferry

The navigating officer of a ferry that sank in 2006 is facing a life sentence if found guilty of criminal negligence in the deaths of two passengers.

The Queen of the North, operated by B.C. Ferries, sank 80 minutes after it struck bottom on the north side of Gil Island, causing a gash the length of the vessel's single-compartment hull. The accident was the only one in the 52-year history of the privately operated company.

Over 100 crew and passengers escaped the vessel, but two passengers were unaccounted for and presumed drowned and their bodies were never recovered.

The navigating officer was fired after the sinking and is expected to plead not guilty at a court appearance next month. The criminal justice branch of the Ministry of the Attorney-General conducted an involved investigation into evidence and decided the only person liable for the incident was the navigating officer responsible for steering the vessel.

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