Ferry Disasters

The Wreck of the Costa Concordia
The Wreck of the Costa Concordia | Source

Ferry Disasters Are Common

The Indonesian ferry boat disaster in January 2009 in which 250 passengers and crew are missing and presumed dead is a reminder that sea-going passenger and car ferries are among the most dangerous modes of transportation. Ferry boats are inherently unseaworthy in rough weather and dangerous because they sink quickly once they begin to take on water or capsize in heavy seas or experience collisions with other vessels or reefs. Moreover, regulations are lax and not enforced in many countries with the result that ferries are over-loaded and carry insufficient life preservers and life boats.

Before embarking on a ferry trip in open water, travelers are well advised to check the weather forecast; whether there are sufficient life preservers on the ferry; and to get off if it appears that the vessel will be overloaded. Special caution is in order in developing countries where ferries are not well regulated. However, caution is advisable as well in advanced countries where ferries are well maintained and regulated. These vessels can be unsafe anywhere in bad weather or in event of collision, crew error, equipment failure or overloading as in the recent sinking in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

As a result of the recent sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in the Mediterranean, some are saying that many cruise ships are inherently unstable because of their shallow draft design. They are shallow draft so that they can enter ports that won't accommodate deeper draft ships, and they are top heavy because of demand to carry more passengers and provide more on board facilities--spas, swimming pools, etc. The Costa Concordia apparently went off course and struck a reef with 4,200 aboard. Nearly all were rescued including the Captain who is facing serious charges related to the grounding and sinking.

Several recent examples of recent ferry disasters are linked below.

Korean Ferry Disaster April 2014
Korean Ferry Disaster April 2014
Source

Prosecutors Call Excess Cargo a Factor in Sinking of Korean Ferry

When the Korean ferry Sewol sank in April, it was carrying almost twice its recommended cargo weight, according to South Korean prosecutors. Inspectors checked the ship’s overall weight by visual inspection, but did not closely check how the weight was balanced. In order to keep the weight within permitted limits, prosecutors said, the ship’s crew reduced the amount of ballast water being carried. The combination of the reduced ballast water and doubled cargo load would have raised the ship’s center of gravity, making it more prone to tip.

The Sewol sank off southwestern South Koreaon April 16. It was carrying twice as much cargo as legally allowed, and much of the cargo was poorly secured, the prosecutors said.

The ship encountered trouble while making a sharper turn than usual in waters known for unpredictable currents. It was the first time that Ms. Park, 25, had been in charge while the ship was navigating those waters. The captain was in his room.

Investigators said the ship lost balance and listed badly as the excess cargo, poorly lashed, shifted position.

Korean ferry Sewol

ADDITIONAL CABINS AND EXHIBITION SPACE

CARGO AREAS

PASSENGER AND

CREW AREAS

BALLAST WATER, FUEL

AND FRESH WATER AREAS

These additions, completed in 2013, raised the ship’s center of gravity, making it crucial that the cargo not be overloaded, which would raise it even higher.

MAXIMUM PERMITTED

ACTUAL LOAD CARRIED

Cargo

1,077 metric tons

2,142

MINIMUM REQUIRED TO

BALANCE 1,077 TONS OF CARGO

ACTUAL LOAD CARRIED

Ballast water

1,695 metric tons

761

South Korean prosecutors The New York Times

Source
Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
"Allure of the Sea" Royal Caribbean
"Allure of the Sea" Royal Caribbean
Manhattan Ferry Disaster
Manhattan Ferry Disaster | Source
Source
Overloaded India River Ferry
Overloaded India River Ferry | Source

Oasis of the Seas, World's Largest Cruise Ship

Respect the Awesome Power of the Sea!

MV Rabaul Queen Sinking off Papua, New Guinea
MV Rabaul Queen Sinking off Papua, New Guinea
Costa Concordia Luxury Cruiser Aground with 4,000 Passengers--She looks a bit top-heavy to me.
Costa Concordia Luxury Cruiser Aground with 4,000 Passengers--She looks a bit top-heavy to me. | Source

Princess of the Stars

US and Filipino divers have combed the wreckage of the 24,000-tonne Princess of the Stars (AFP)
US and Filipino divers have combed the wreckage of the 24,000-tonne Princess of the Stars (AFP)

9-9-11 Overloaded Zanzibar Ferry Sinks with 800 Aboard

A Zanzibar ferry dangerously overloaded with passengers and cargo sank on September 8. The ferry was reportedly listing already when it left Dar es Salaam with tourists and families returning from holidays. At least 200 passengers were lost in the tragedy. 600 were saved, indicating that the ferry was overloaded when it left Zanzibar foundered and sank in deep water.

Source

Philippine Ferry Disaster Video September

Zeebrugge Ferry Capsize Disaster

Staten Island Ferry Collision

Riverdance ferry disaster at Cleveleys, Blackpool, UK

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Comments 35 comments

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

OMG I ride a ferry across the Straits to Seattle all the time...a car ferry and the weather can be bad sometimes...now I am scared...but it seems the help comes quickly..but not always quickly enough...and some of the footage is incredable..wow how they can film in such a terrible time in their life's...the instinct to live is also a wonder...I guess there is nothing else you can do...and such brave divers..people are so wonderful...but now onto something a bit more relaxing...well done though...G-Ma :o) Hugs & Peace


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Like the old song, Ralph, "I love to ride the ferry." I grew up in Yonkers and often took the ferry across the Hudson River to Alpine, New Jersey. It's very sad to see these ferry disasters. I usually think of them occurring in the middle and far east, but right here in New York -- ughh! Maybe more and better safety rules would help.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

As I recall there was a disaster of a tour boat on Lake George a few years ago. I remember because several of the people who lost their lives were Michaganders. But big car ferries in the open ocean or the fog are the most dangerous. They are top heavy and sink like rocks when they capsize.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Pretty darn devastating.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Another ferry sinks, this time in Sierra Leone. Beware of car ferries, especially those operating in open water.


Steve Berman 6 years ago

If you look at the Satelite view of Google Maps (3/9/2010), there appears to be a sunken ferry just off the Ferry pier at Port Townsend WA. What boat is this? And what happened here?


sharecruises 6 years ago

What do you think of the old Norwegian sea ferry that has been turned into a (substandard) "cruiseship">> Bahamas Celebration?

They do 2 night cruises to the Bahamas...I hear they "exit" the ship through the "car garage".


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago Author

I'm not familiar with Bahamas Celebration, but will keep an eye out for it. As you can tell I'm not a fan of car ferries, especially in open water.

Thanks for your comment.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

MOSCOW — A riverboat filled with families cruising on the Volga River sank on Sunday, and about 100 people were missing hours later, feeding fears that the episode could be the country’s worst such accident in recent history.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Many Children Died in Russian River Boat Sinking

Shortly before a riverboat on the Volga lurched to one side and then slowly capsized, an estimated 40 children had been moved into an interior play area.

The boat was in disrepair and listing before it left the dock.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago Author

Zanzibar Ferry Sinks

A Zanzibar ferry dangerously overloaded with passengers and cargo sank on September 8. The ferry was reportedly listing already when it left Dar es Salaam with tourists and families returning from holidays. An estimated 200 passengers were lost in the tragedy.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Captain arrested amid growing anger after Italian cruise ship runs aground. Francesco Schettino investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship after three die and 69 go missing.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Costa Concordia Disaster

"Ship Capt. Francesco Schettino and First Capt. Ciro Ambrosio are in police custody, facing charges for manslaughter and abandoning ship. The duo was among the first to take a lifeboat to safety, effectively leaving the passengers and crew to fend for themselves in what has been described as a very chaotic evacuation. “No one was in charge,” said Nareem Fauled, a South African passenger. “We had such conflicting information and no one knew what we were supposed to do.”


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Costa Concordia disaster: 6 confirmed dead; 16 missing.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Captain of Stricken Vessel Says He Fell Overboard in Passenger Panic - NYTimes.com

A farcical new twist emerged from the horrific accounts of the wreck, with the captain saying he tripped during the passenger panic on deck, fell overboard and ended up in a lifeboat. 21 still missing. 11 confirmed dead.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

1-26-12NYTimes--Captain of Doomed Cruise Ship Says He was Repeatedly Ordered to Alter Course Toward Giglio Island Off Picturesque Tuscan Coast

Costa Concordia Captain Says He Was Ordered to Changed Course - NYTimes.com

Capt. Francesco Schettino told an official from the cruise line that company managers instructed him to change direction, according to leaked telephone transcripts. Costa Cruises is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruises, the world's largest cruise company


Bob Garrison 4 years ago

When I was a boy 1950's living in Port Townsend, I met a spinster who's brother was a sea captain. She told me of a passenger ferry that struck a rock off Port Townsend one stormy nite, the next morning all they found was a dog on the beach. The boat was never found...does any body know the rest of the story????


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Bob, I'll see what I can find about the Port Townsend ferry disaster. Thanks for the comment. I've read enough about ferries that I wouldn't get on one without making sure the weather was fair. And I'd find out where they keep the life jackets.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

Another ferry disaster.

Rescue crews are searching for more than 100 people missing after a ferry capsized off Papua New Guinea


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

5-8-12Telegraph--India Ferry Sinks with 250 On Board

India ferry sinks with 250 on board - Telegraph

"The steamer was traveling with 250 people on board when it capsized midstream in the Brahmaputra following a storm," P.C. Haloi, police chief of Dhubri,told AFP by telephone. Witnesses saw victims being swept away by the swift river current.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 4 years ago Author

7-19-12BBCNews--Another Tanzania Ferry Disaster--100 Missing

Tanzania Ferry Sinks

A naval search operation resumed at first light to find an estimated 100 people missing after a Tanzanian ferry sank near Zanzibar's main island.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

Another ferry disaster:

10-2-12WallStreetJournal--"Dozens Die as Two Hong Kong Boats Crash

Hong Kong Police Arrest Crew Members in Collision - WSJ.com

Police arrested three crew members from each of the two boats that collided in the dark Monday night, killing 38 people, including five children, in the city's worst maritime disaster in 40 years.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

1-9-12NYTimes "Nearly 60 Are Injured in Ferry Crash in Lower Manhattan"

More Than 60 Are Injured in Ferry Crash in Lower Manhattan - NYTimes.com

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, though officials said the ferry had been traveling at over 10 miles per hour just before the crash.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/nyregion/ferry-a...


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

5-15-13 Myanmar Ferry Sinks; 200 Lost

Rescue operation after Myanmar boats sink - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Vessels with scores of Rohingya Muslims evacuating camps ahead of storm sink, leaving many dead, say UN officials.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 3 years ago Author

Comment from RGT, former Merchant Marine sailor:

Ralph I thought of another comment. Maxine & I sailed on a Cruise ship tour of the Hawaiian Islands some time in the mid/late 1970's. As an x deep sea Merchant Seaman I visited the Engine room & Bridge. I talked to the First Mate on the bridge & found out the ship was licensed & manned by U.S.Coast Guard. But it was going to be decommissioned & relicensed to a foreign Registry. Even though, I suspect, the U.S. furnishes the majority of passengers I'll bet none of the current Cruise line ships are U.S.Registered & Coast Guard Controlled.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

1-15-13NYTimes--Scores Die in Ferry Accident in South Sudan

Log In - The New York Times

All of the people killed, possibly as many as 300, were civilians, including women and children abandoning the town of Malakal, said Col. Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the South Sudanese military. “The boat was overloaded,” he said.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 2 years ago Author

4-24-14SydneyHerald--South Korean Ferry Disaster

South Korea ferry disaster: Children's corpses reveal desperate attempts to escape the Sewol

South Korean divers are feeling for children's bodies with their hands in a maze of cabins, corridors and upturned decks of the Sewol ferry as they searched for hundreds of missing.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 23 months ago Author

10-28-14 NYTimes "Death Penalty Sought in South Korean Ferry Sinking

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/28/world/asia/death...{%221%22%3A%22RI%3A6%22}

Prosecutors on Monday demanded the death penalty for the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank in April, killing 304 people, most of them teenage students, the country’s worst peacetime disaster in decades.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 21 months ago Author

Winds Hamper Burning Ferry Rescue Off Greece

Winds hamper burning ferry rescue off Greece - Worldnews.com

A first group of about 170 passengers have been rescued after an Italian ferry with almost 500 people on board caught fire off the Greek island of Corfu. The Norman Atlantic, carrying 222 vehicles, 411 passengers and 55 crew, was 44 nautical miles no


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 20 months ago Author

VERBANIA, Italy — As black smoke gushed from the lower decks of the stricken ferry, Italian and Greek fireboats bobbed alongside, blasting water at the flames, while overhead helicopters churned through heavy Adriatic winds and mist to rescue the increasingly desperate passengers.

Adm. Giuseppe De Giorgi, the Italian Navy’s chief of staff, described the operation as one of the largest and most dramatic rescue missions his country had ever undertaken, with 427 people evacuated from the burning ship.

Even so, at least 10 people were known to have died after the ferry, the Norman Atlantic, caught fire on Sunday en route to Ancona, Italy, from the Greek port of Patras, and there were concerns that some passengers might still be missing even after the evacuation had been completed.

Continue reading the main story

Related Coverage

Fires were still burning on the Norman Atlantic after it was towed from the coast of Greece to Italy.

Passengers’ Accounts of Rescue From Burning Ferry Differ SharplyJAN. 8, 2015

Hundreds of people were stuck on a ferry that caught fire off Greece’s northwestern coast, as rescuers fought rough seas and gale-force winds.

Scores Are Stranded as Ferry Catches Fire Off Greek CoastDEC. 28, 2014

Questions also quickly arose about emergency preparations and the response of the crew after passengers interviewed in Italian newspapers and on television spoke of disorganization and chaos after the blaze got out of control.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 19 months ago Author

2-11-15NYTimes "Captain in Concordia Disaster Sentenced to 16 Years"

Log In - The New York Times

An Italian court convicted Francesco Schettino, captain of the cruise liner that capsized in 2012 and left 32 people dead, sentenced him to just over 16 years in prison for his role in the maritime disaster, one of the worst in modern Italian history


Taranwanderer profile image

Taranwanderer 19 months ago

This is anyone's worst nightmare on a cruise. I was JUST reading about the captain of the ship, and how he refused to take responsibility for an error (his fault, in part) that led to the deaths of 32 people. Terribly sad. Excellent reporting on this hub, btw


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 19 months ago Author

Very true. Thanks for your comment.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 17 months ago Author

"Rescuers searched on Monday for survivors after a ship carrying hundreds of migrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday night, in what could prove to be one of the deadliest such disasters in the waters between Europe and Africa.

"Officials estimate that 700 people may have drowned, though that number could rise sharply. Bodies were seen floating in the water, and rescuers said that some remained trapped inside the vessel. Only 24 bodies had been recovered by Sunday evening."


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 16 months ago Author

http://hubpages.com/travel/Indonesian-Ferry-Disast...

JIANLI, China — Rescue divers from across China converged on a remote stretch of the Yangtze River on Tuesday in a race to save people believed to be trapped inside the hull of a capsized cruise ship that had carried 456 passengers and crew members.

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