Posted by: Jerry Garrett | October 26, 2010

RCCL’s Legend of the Seas Helps Rescue 18 Sailors

Xin Yi sank Oct. 19 in Typhoon Megi.

Fast response by Royal Caribbean‘s “Legend of the Seas” is being credited with helping rescue 18 of the 22 crew aboard a freighter, the “Xin Yi”, after it began sinking October 18 in the Strait of Taiwan.

Xin Yi, a cement carrier sailing under a Panamanian registry and flag, was headed from China to Brunei. It was one of two ships reported to have sunk as a result of high winds, heavy seas and driving rain from “super” Typhoon Megi.

(In this BBC story and accompanying video of one sailor’s harrowing rescue, Legend of the Seas can be seen midway through the clip, in the distance, at the rescue site.)

Legend of the Seas

In his blog, Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein congratulated the Legend’s captain and crew:

Legend of the Seas was the first ship to arrive at the distressed ship, which was sinking.  Faced with very rough seas and heavy winds up to 75 miles per hour, crew members onboard Legend of the Seas immediately began search and rescue operations.  Once the Taiwan Coast Guard arrived at the location, they began assisting with air and sea searches.  Together with the Taiwan Coast Guard, Legend of the Seas was able rescue three of the crew and assist in the rescue of another nine of the cargo ship’s 22 crew members.

“After taking part in the rescue operation for approximately 12 hours, the ship was advised by the Coast Guard that they would assume control of the search for the remaining missing crew members.   Legend of the Seas resumed its journey to Hong Kong with three of the rescued sailors onboard.”

One crewman, however, was confirmed dead. Three others were missing.

Legend of the Seas was en route from Taipei (rather than Hanoi, as also reported) to Hong Kong when it diverted to the site of the sinking. Legend’s schedule seemed to have been interrupted temporarily as a result of the storm, the attendant delays and the rescue; it was due to resume its sailings from Hong Kong on Oct. 30.

It’s been a busy year for Royal Caribbean ships in rescue and other humanitarian efforts, in connection with disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and the Iceland volcanic eruption.

The accomplishment of the Legend of the Seas here seems worthy of note, because cruise ships are not particularly well suited to either high seas rescues or operation in typhoons. Expert seamanship is required.

[UPDATE 10/27: “The Captain’s name is Yngvar Knutsen,” Cynthia Martinez, an RCCL spokeswoman tells us in an email. The Taiwan Coast Guard has given Legend credit for having a hand in helping rescue 18 of the 22 sailors. So perhaps Royal Caribbean is being modest? “The numbers you quoted (of sailors) were the final rescue numbers,” Ms. Martinez continued. “The Coast Guard released the ship from the search while they continued.  The numbers in our statement is what we specially assisted with. I don’t know if the ship used life boats during the rescue.  I do know the seas were very rough.

“The 14 night itinerary that departed Tianjin, China on October 7 included port calls to Seoul (Incheon) , South Korea, Shanghai, China, Nagasaki and Okinawa, Japan and Taipei (Keelung), Taiwan.”]
Jerry Garrett

October 26, 2010


Responses

  1. Dear Jerry, Please get your facts straight before you put news out, the Legend of the Seas was on a cruise from Tianjin, Seoul, Shanghai, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Okinawa, Taipei, having left there early because of the approaching Typhoon Megi we were going full steam to get to Hong Kong and be in port in case it hit. As a result we had enough time to help in the Search and Rescue for 12hours and still get to port without endangering our ship. Halong Bay was never on the itinerary and geographically impossible. A good news man prints facts that are correct and this could be found on any of RCCL itinerary ports.

    • Ruth – thank you so much for writing. Details have been hard to come by. We’ve asked Royal Caribbean for clarification of some of the conflicting reports (including which itinerary they were on) around this, and have so far heard nothing from them. We appreciate hearing from someone who was actually on the ship.

  2. Dear Jerry – Where did you get the photo of the Xin Yi as the ship sank in the middle of the night, we saw her go down. We understand that the Captain of the ship went down with her. That was the information given to us by our Captain and we were told that the Coast Guard managed to rescue the last 3 sailors after we left, all of which was given to us on our arrival in Hong Kong. Please explain. Many thanks.

    • The photo was originally published in a newspaper in Panama, where the ship was registered. Although the ship did finally sink in the night, the Maritime News reported that it began to founder many hours earlier.

      • Hi there, the ship pictured there is not Xin Yi… Xin Yi was a cement ship with open type lifeboats. Also, she did not start to founder hours earlier, she sent the Mayday at around 2300 and sank at around 0100.

      • Thanks for writing in. I appreciate your information. Were you an eyewitness? I have read the accounts of three eyewitnesses so far. One said he saw the Xin Yi sink at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 18. Another said she saw the ship sink at 1:00 a.m. on Oct. 19. A third said he saw it begin to take on water about 4 p.m. on Oct. 18, and thought it sank about 10 hours after that. The Mayday was sent early enough on Oct. 18 for Legend of the Seas to re-route itself to aid the stricken ship, and to be present (or in the general vicinity) whenever it actually sank. Numerous news agencies reported the ship sank on Oct. 18. Nearly as many others, including the Maritime News, reported Oct. 19. The name of the ship has also been reported as the Xin Ye, Xinye, Xing Ye and Xing Yi. There are also two or more ships with that name, or some slight variation of it. Even more confusingly, most operate in the waters just off the South China coast. The ship, despite its Panamanian registry, may have been built by a shipbuilding company with a similar name in Shanghai; it has also been described that a Xinye is merely the name of a type of cargo ship. I have notified the Panamanian newspaper that ran the original photo it reported was the Xin Yi sinking that questions have been raised about their photo. Trying to get accurate information about this tragedy has been compounded by trying to translate Chinese characters into English – an inexact science, at best. We do know the ship sank a few miles off the coast of Miaoli, on the western side of the island of Taiwan. We know that concerns have abated about 300 gallons of its fuel oil washing up on Taiwanese beaches; most of the oil seems to have dissipated into the sea. We know one crewman is confirmed dead, and three others remain missing and presumed dead. We’ve made a sincere effort here to report what we have been able to find out – it’s just that there is so much contradictory information – even among people to claim to have been eyewitnesses. The purpose of this post, however, was merely to give a tip of the cap to the Legend of the Seas and its captain and crew. That’s all.

      • Hi Jerry, I appreciate you covering this event, since it did not get much coverage in the “western” world… most of the facts you listed are correct.
        The Captain and all of Legend crew deserved to be recognised.
        Thank you again !

  3. Hi Jerry Your responses have been most interesting and like you I also understood that many ships had the same or similar name and when it comes to translations a lot is lost. Here is my experience of what happened. At 12.15 am we were woken by the Captain announcing through speakers in our cabins (usually this is only done in an emergency) that there has been a May Day from a ship in our vicinity and that we are the closest and had to turn around. It is this turn around that occasioned some disquiet among passengers as the ship began to list when hit by waves from the side. Up to this point we had been going 21 knots instead of the usual 13. All this told to us by our Captain and therefore we were cutting through the heavy seas really not feeling them at all. We were told not to be afraid as the ship could easily tolerate this kind of weather but rather having now reached the scene we would have to continue in figure 8’s which is the normal way of searching for people lost at seas so from time to time we would again list. He said if you look out of your window on the port side you can see the ship’s lights in the distance and by this time two helicopters had also arrived with searchlights trained on the water. The Coast Guard would soon be on the scene. The seas were fairly high and it was about 1 pm when suddenly the lights of the ship were no longer visible and by that time we did see an occasional flicker of a red light as if coming from a life vest in the ocean. We heard a lot of shouting at one point and that apparently was as they pulled someone over the side of the Legend. We did not stay up to watch for much longer than that. It was the next morning that our Captain was interviewed on our TV and spoke in a very emotional way and said that he had spoken with the Captain of that ship that night and had been told that everyone had managed to get off the ship, however he also told us that the Captain went down with the ship. We watched again in the early light and occasionally you could see a figure and the next minute a wave dumped right on them and they were gone and then seemed to resurface. We believe this to be the one dead sailor. On our ship of the three that we rescued one was very sick but recovered about 24 hours later with the care of the doctors. At all times we were given bulletins of what was going on. We passengers up to that time were far more concerned with Typhoon Megi and whether or not she would reach Hong Kong before we got there as we were arriving in port one day earlier than expected and hoping to beat her and therefore had to dock at the Container Terminal until our berth became available on the day when we should have arrived. It is sad that good news never travels as fast as bad. It is an experience that will remain with us all our lives and even your blog is going in our Photo Album. Many thanks

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It adds so much to this story. If any other eyewitnesses, especially Legend passengers would be willing to share their thoughts and remembrances here, it would be very much appreciated.

  4. Hi There
    My husband Adrian and I were on the above cruise with Legend of the Seas to celebrate our 60th Birthdays. We were on Deck 2 fairly midship. Firstly it was a fantastic cruise, a trip of a lifetime for us. I always write a page or so after each day so that we can remember things we have done over the holiday. I will now write exactly what I wrote on the night and the morning following the sinking of the cargo ship.
    Monday Oct 18th.
    We left Keelung at approx 5.30 pm, it was still hot and hot and humid. Went to bed early as we didn’t want to watch the show, also the ship was rocking all over the place. According to the TV cruise news we were in gale force winds with waves of 18-20 ft. I was woken just before midnight by an announcement into the cabin that we were changing course at the request of the coast guard to go to the assistance of a ship in distress. The ship was listing and thumping into the waves as the ship turned. Out of the cabin window we could see a ship in the distance that we appeared to be heading for. Flares came off of this ship and we could see what we assumed was helicopter lights coming nearer. More flares but the sea was so rough the ship kept disappearing and re-appearing in the trough of the waves. We caught sight of it again and decided to go up to the solarium to look out of the windows a) to get a drink and b) to see if there was any other news. It was difficult to walk because of the movement on the ship. When we got up to deck 9 we were told that the rumour was that the ship had gone down. One of the Head Waiters walked through and was asked whether the si[p had indeed sunk, his reply was “no comment Sir”.
    This was now approx 1 am on Tuesday 19th. There were crew everywhere and the wind was howling. We couldn’t see anything out of the window except for the searchlight of the helicopter. We decided to go back to the cabin but the smell of diesel was overpowering. We wondered whether it was coming somehow through the air conditioning. We left the cabin again and went up to deck 4 where other guests had gathered. Some were looking out of the windows, a few were popping balloons that were left over from the rock and roll party. The bangs felt out of place given the circumstances. We could see tiny lights in the water presumably from the lifejackets of the crew of the sunken ship. Suddenly there was a cheer and hurried movement from the crew as they raced around with blankets stretchers etc., the stairs had been taped off and the lifts held open. A stretcher was then wheeled round from the deck with a seemingly unconscious man strapped on it. He was then taken in the lift presumably to the medical quarters. A female crew member then told us that the ship had indeed sunk and there were crew in the water. My husband Adrian went back down into the cabin to see whether the fumes had dispersed. As he looked out of our cabin window he saw a lifebelt attached to rope come past the window, nobody was attached. The fumes had dispersed by now. Shortly after another cheer and clapping went up from people that were looking out of the window, this followed by a collective groan apparently another man had reached the lifebelt but he slipped off. A Legend crew member went from one side of the deck to the other carrying an oil soaked lifebelt, no wonder the sailor lost his grip. It was about 2.30 am the captain and other personnel made several announcements over the tannoy assuring guests of the stability of the Legend of the Seas and about the continuing search. We went back to the cabin and at 3am another announcement came through from the captain to say that the coastguard had decided that they had sufficient back up so Legend could go on toward Hong Kong. he added that 3 lives had been directly saved by the Legend and these sailors were on board. We then went to sleep wondering about the the rest of the crew. At 6am we were woken by another announcement saying that we were still involved in search and rescue mode (which was puzzling) and would continue to be so for awhile. 7 am another announcement to warn that the ship would be making a sharp turn as someone had been spotted in the water. The sea was very very rough waves of 20ft. 8.25 another announcement an update this time: “Legend of the Seas has helped rescue 15 crew members and are searching for 7 more.” I had tears in my eyes at that news. he went on to say that two coast guard boats had been working very close to our ship and had just picked another of the crew. We were told to expect another strong list as the ship was going to turn again. 10.30 am we went on deck 10 and watched a helicopter hovering over the sea and appeared to winch up something/someone. it was difficult to tell which. There was more news that someone in a lifeboat had been spotted by our ship and the news relayed to the coast guard. This rescue was too far away for us to see. As we watched from the top deck there was debris and thick oil, we also saw an upturned lifeboat go passed. All very poignant reminders of the night’s tragedy. All of the rails and surfaces outside seem very sticky with a mixture of sea spray and oil. 11.30 am and announcement came that the Legend was now standing down and going on its way to Hong Kong. I guess the announcement earlier in the morning was wrong or an attempt to get guests to return to their cabins. The TV interview that the captain gave to the guests was very dignified. He looked exhausted but told of the receiving a Mayday call from a cargo vessel that was behind us before midnight. He turned the ship round and was in communication with the other captain who said that his ship was filling up with water and was in grave danger. He added that the ship went down very very quickly. We shall not forget this trip in a hurry.
    That is the end of the entry for the time slot of this incident. I haven’t added or taken away anything because memory plays tricks and it may not be correct. This was my view and no doubt others may have witnessed or seen different events. When we arrived in Hong Kong I took a photo the side of the ship where the oil stains were a testament of the work that the crew of the Legend did to assist the crew in the water.
    They all did a fantastic job and should be congratulated.
    Chris and Adrian Head UK

    • Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Head for sharing your story, so eloquently and powerfully. Recollections such as yours help bring a human element to this tale that news reports just cannot supply. And you give us yet another reminder of the skill, bravery and integrity of the Legend, her captain and crew.

      • HI JERRY. MY BROTHER ALSO DESERVES TO BE RECOGNIZED. HE WAS THE
        DOCTOR WHO ASSISTED THE 3 CREWS SAVED FROM THE SUNKEN SHIP.
        HE’S DR. REYNALDO AQUINO FROM THE PHILIPPINES.

      • Thank you, Josephine, for sharing your brother’s story of heroism!

  5. Jerry..we were also passengers on that cruise.The comments by Ruth Moalem and Chris Head to this site are accurate and really tell the story.The captain and crew of the Legend deserve hearty congratulations for preventing an even greater tragedy than it already was.It was really a cruise night to remember…Ron and Linda McMicking…Victoria, B.C. Canada(deck 8..midship)..Nov 16,2010

  6. Hi Jerry,
    Congratulations to the crew who stayed up and help rescue and assist in the rescue of the crew from the stricken Cargo Ship Xin Yi. It was an honour to have been there and witness the legend of our ship. We also recollect what the others have given here. Our waiter in the dining room kept us updated on the status of the three rescued crew as his wife was a nurse on board. Everyday we would ask and he was always happy to advise us, he even volunteered during the night to help in the medical room. So all the crew on board definitely need a bravery award.

    • Maria, we appreciate so much that you would take the time to share your experience with us. The more we hear such stories, the better grasp we get on the degree of bravery and honour shown by the Legend’s crew!

  7. Hello I need some assistance in finding a you g lady’s Father is name is Veronico Gador he is 48 yrs old he is a Cargo Ship Captain last known Dhip was Miss Marie. He lives in Phillipines
    Her Mother Charleen Simmons is assisting her in this search for they reside in Cape Town. It is important that she finds him if any way possible you could help or guide me in assisting her finding her Father would greatly be appreciated.. May God Bless You
    Thanks for your time..


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