It's good to know that the maritime spirit and traditions apply even to the biggest of vessels! There have been two instances recently of cruise ships and their crews being pressed into service on rescue missions for fellow sailors in distress, both with good outcomes.
Sun Princess to the rescue
Last week, the Sun Princess had her day in the heroic spotlight, rescuing five people from a much smaller vessel that was drifting in the fog off the coast of Vanuatu, west of Espiritu Santo. The group had been adrift for nearly 2 days, and were glad to see the Sun Princess when she diverted her course to Champagne Bay to pick them up.
Several of the rescued people were family members of a senior minister in Vanuatu's government, and he expressed his thanks to the line for their help. Government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman later boarded the ship to thank Captain Diego Perra. Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises Vice President Australia and New Zealand, said the line was very pleased to be able to offer assistance in a successful search and rescue operation.
Carnival Spirit and Pacific Pearl team up
Two of Australia's favourite locally based ships, the Carnival Spirit and Pacific Pearl, were both asked to sail to the aid of a disabled yacht with six people onboard. The yacht was stranded 280 nautical miles northeast of Sydney, and some of the passengers required medical assistance.
While the Pacific Pearl was quickly released from the rescue mission by the search and rescue authorities, the Spirit stuck around to wait for further assistance to arrive. Two injured crew members from the yacht were taken onboard for medical attention, and the Spirit facilitated transfer of emergency supplies including pumps and fuel to the remainder of those onboard who were attempting to repair the vessel and prevent her sinking.
Spirit of the sea
It's an unwritten code amongst sailors that they will always alter course to help another oceangoer in need. In fact, in many places and organisations it is written - and even enshrined in law, although the vast majority of captains and crews would not hesitate to help whether they were required to or not.
The International Marine Organisation, which regulates safety, security and pollution in the marine industry, has an International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (a maritime treaty) of which Chapter V states that "The master of a ship at sea which is in a position to be able to provide assistance on receiving a signal from any source that persons are in distress at sea, is bound to proceed with all speed to their assistance, if possible informing them or the search and rescue service that the ship is doing so." It should be standard operating procedure for a ship to have established protocol to co-operate with search and rescue services.
It's encouraging to see cruise lines participate willingly and wholly in the traditions and treaties which help to keep safe all those who leave the shore behind. Find a cruise and join the community!