On Monday, we discussed the passengers who were stranded at sea following a fire in the engine room of the Carnival Triumph. It is important to remember that maritime law also protects the crew of cruise ships as well, and this BBC News video discusses five crewmembers who were killed on February 10 during a lifeboat drill on the THOMSON MAJESTY. The vessel is owned by Louis Cruises, and the five crewmembers killed included three Indonesians, a Ghanian and a Flipino. Two Greek nationals and another Filipino crewmember also sustained moderate injuries. The THOMSON MAJESTY was docked in Spain’s Canary Islands when a cable snapped during the safety drill and the eight individuals plunged 65 feet.

A spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) told the website Cruise Critic that the Lifeboat Loading for Training Purposes Policy dictates that only the crew that would be essential for operating the lifeboat should be onboard when it is lowered. “This is a widely recognized safety principal throughout the maritime industry,” the CLIA spokesperson said. “The additional crewmembers are loaded once it is in the water.”

Alan Graveson, Senior International Secretary of the seafarers’ union Nautilus International, told Cruise Critic that he issued instructions seven years ago that said “preferably nobody should be in the lifeboat during a safety drill,” but the maximum should be two people when that is not possible. “Lifeboats are meant to go one way—and that’s down,” Graveson said. “I don’t know why there were eight people onboard when they were winching it back up.”

An investigation by the various authorities will need to determine why the crew members were in the life boat and whether the appropriate safety precautions and procedures were being followed at the time of the accident.

Many cruise ship employees can be considered seamen under the Jones Act, meaning that they can recover damages for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering if they are injured because of an employer’s negligence. It also means that the families of these workers may be able to collect wrongful death damages when loved ones die while working on these vessels.

Latti & Anderson LLP has been helping injured seamen and their families recover compensation under the Jones Act for more than a half-century, and additional information about unseaworthiness and defective equipment laws is available at our website. If you or a loved one sustained  injuries while working at sea, use the form on this page to let our Jones Act attorneys review your case or contact our firm at (800) 392-6072 to set up a free initial consultation.

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Latti & Anderson’s Little Extra: The Danish business conglomerate Maersk says more people have been killed during lifeboat training drills than saved during real evacuations. Professional Mariner magazine reported that while there are no worldwide statistics on lifeboat accidents, a 2001 study by the UK-based Marine Accident Investigation Branch showed that 12 seafarers were killed and 87 were injured aboard UK flag ships or in UK waters during a 10-year period starting in 1989.