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|22nd October 2008, 11:25||#33|
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Wer is the part 2, cmon man, out with it. Good narration, excellent recollection. Stuff like this makes team bhp a fully intergrated reading experience. Waiting..
|22nd October 2008, 13:51||#34|
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Excellent narration of horror tale deky. We must only imagine what situation you underwent on board of ship, but I must say the horror must be much more than our imagination.
Waiting for second part of your horror-logue.
|22nd October 2008, 14:16||#35|
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Horror On High Seas- Part2
1500HRS – 1600HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
Surprisingly everything still seemed to be very calm till now. Yes it was something unusual but all seemed to be under control. As I understood the situation, it seemed to be some electrical fault that would be rectified soon and we should be on our way again, but I was so horribly wrong. At about 1510hrs suddenly my Motorola 2-way radio set on channel 4 came alive. It was my F&B manager calling all the senior managers for a small meeting in his office. All the senior managers were issued 2-way radios to keep in touch with each other. F&B was on channel 4, Deck & Engine on channel 1, Casino on channel 2 and so on. All the major departments had their designated channels so that they would not interfere in each others communication. There was also channel 7 that was only for emergency situations. On channel 7 only the captain was allowed to give out information to the radio holders. As five of us collected at my F&B manager’s office we got the first news of the situation. The loss of power had happened due to an electrical short circuit in the main electrical distribution box. Well that explained why the auxiliary generators meant for emergency lights were rendered useless too. We were given some torch lights and the F&B was given the task to go to the 3 crew decks below the sea level and empty out the cabins of staff and ask them to proceed to the open decks in the Forward and the Aft of the ship and wait there for further instructions. There were no exceptions to be made as with no power and no ventilation it would be difficult to stay down there. Since the P.A. system also was rendered useless, each crew cabin had to be manually checked and emptied. As we went about the task I kept a lookout for more information trickling out of the 2-way radio, but there was none. We still weren’t told to go on emergency channel 7 and that was good news as there still wasn’t anything to panic about. It seemed that the electrical fire would soon be doused and normalcy would return soon. The weekly emergency drills that used to take place on the ship were showing their importance now. The crew by default had taken their life jackets with them and proceeded in an orderly fashion up to the open decks. There wasn’t any panic, at least till now.
Similarly the housekeeping staff went about emptying guest cabins and other public areas of the ship. All were asked to proceed up to the Lido deck of the ship, but luckily not many guests were present inside the ship, thanks to the good weather on the open decks.
Staffs were placed at stairwells so that once the crew or guests went up to the decks; they could be stopped from returning to their cabins. General emergency had not been sounded as yet; this was just a precautionary measure till the fault was rectified.
General emergency is usually the 2nd step during an emergency situation onboard.
1st STEP being the announcements of various codes for different type of undue happenings. E.g. Code Blue for flooding, Code Red for fire, Code yellow for medical emergency and so on. During the 1st step of the codes only those crew involved in that particular code need to react the rest are suppose to just continue being normal.
2ND STEP of general emergency, an announcement is to be made on the P.A. system by the captain of the ship followed by seven short and one long blast on the ship’s whistle and the P.A. system. During general emergency each staff is allocated a specific task to do and the guests suppose to muster at their muster stations. Then a count is done of all the crew and guests and reported to the Bridge. Note:- If anyone of you ever go on a cruise my sincere suggestion is to attend the passenger drills and listen to all the instructions given religiously. The drill as per law has to happen as soon as u embark the ship. Even a simple thing like putting your life jacket on properly will give you a lot of confidence in an emergency.
3RD STEP and the ultimate one is abandon ship, the announcement is made only by the master of the ship followed by one short and one long blast 3 times on the ships whistle or the P.A system. As the name suggests during this time all the passengers on the ship are suppose to move from their muster station to the assigned life boat and life raft, a count is taken at that point to make sure the full compliment of the life boat/ raft is present. A report is again made to the bridge reporting of any missing persons. Then on command from the bridge the boats are lowered down from the ship and moved away.
1600HRS – 1700HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
By now the ship it seemed was empty of its public area, its guest cabins and crew cabins. The guest had collected up on the Lido deck and there were a lot of anxious faces seen all over the ship. Since the P.A system wasn’t working, proper information could not be disbursed, but till then they had definitely realized this wasn’t a drill. The cruise staffs, who are involved with all the entertainment on board Sun Vista, were desperately trying their best to keep the guests involved with various games and shows. This was a bid to keep the guests busy and to avoid panic amongst them, which in turn might result in another situation. The fire situation wasn’t getting any better either, by now one could easily smell burning rubber and could clearly see black smoke bellowing out of the ships funnel. This clearly wasn’t the regular soot from the engine, this was because of the fire in the engine room and this meant that it was spreading.
SMOKE SEEN COMING OUT OF THE SHIPS FUNNEL (PIC)
The electrical fire meant that the electricity to the ship would not be restored for a long time even if the fire was to be controlled. These were ominous signs and a decision had to be taken to start arranging for food for the passengers. The sunlight would fade soon, and then there won’t be any way we could work in total darkness to feed the passengers. As the fire did not seem to relent a decision was taken to set up another BBq on the decks. Till then the idea of us abandoning the ship any time soon, did not cross our minds even once. The news that kept coming on the 2-way radio was that it was just a fire though a major one by now, would be bought under control sooner or later. The ship would still be afloat and would be towed away to the port of Penang which was about 70 nautical miles away from where we were.
1700HRS – 1800HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
My 2-way radio on channel 4 started to talk again; it was my F&B manager telling us to do a final round of the cabins to make sure no one was left behind. The check was to be completed as soon as possible and was to be reported to him (and he in turn would make a consolidated report and give it to the bridge). This was essential we were told as they were about to release CO2 inside the engine room. Usually CO2 in case of fire is released as the last resort; as after that no one can go inside that area to manually fight the fire.
On my way checking the cabins I decided to take a small detour and go to my cabin to change into something more comfortable. The white uniform with the tie and leather boots was starting to become a hindrance in my mobility. I quickly changed into shorts and a t-shirt and continued with the job on hand. Little that I knew, that I would be wearing those same clothes for the next 48 hrs.
Up on the decks the BBq was ready. The captain of the ship had come out on the deck and shouted his lungs out to explain the situation to all the waiting passengers. They were assured by him that the fire would be bought under control soon. They were also again advised by him not to go down to the cabins as the ship will be filled with CO2 gas. With these re-assuring words, the guest had started to eat and enjoy the BBq. It was decided to give free beer and drinks to the guests to make up for the inconvenience caused to them. (This wasn’t the best decision taken I must admit).
CAPTAIN ADDRESSING THE PASSENGERS (PIC)
1800HRS – 1900HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
As the time went by, anxiety increased, passengers were getting more and more restless. There were people all over the decks waiting anxiously to get some more news from the captain. Thanks to the free drinks, there were some drunken men who had started to create a scene at the bar which had run out of the drinks available. The organized chaos continued.
The funnel still had smoke coming out but it did seem to become a bit more thick and black than the last time I saw. Did that mean that the CO2 also did not work? Well we were all hoping for the best. Suddenly at 1815hrs there was a big blast that came from within the ship followed by lot of thick black smoke from the funnel. That is it I realized, we were close to general emergency. I listened intently on my 2-way radio to get some more information. And the information surely came, It wasn’t the information I was really keen on hearing, it was general emergency and we were all asked to switch to channel 7 (emergency channel). As the ships P.A system was not working, the general emergency information was disbursed by the way of word and mouth. The guests started to proceed to their muster stations at the promenade on the Celebrity Deck no 8. The promenade is usually where the life boats are lowered to first for the guests to embark and finally they are lowered down to the sea. With the guests not been allowed to go to their cabins another situation now had arisen. Apart from them not having any personal belongings or cash or jewelry, most of them did not have the best life saving apparatus at sea, the life jackets on them. Now the situation was getting more and more alarming, panic and started to set in slowly. With the panic it was difficult to think out of ones head. Even some of the crew had forgotten all about what they had learnt in the weekly drills and were getting restless.
Well at least the life jacket situation was resolved as someone thinking from a cool head just realized that there are always extra life jackets kept on the P deck for situation just like these. Those boxes were opened and the life jacket distributed. A small tussle for the life jackets erupted, but was bought under control quickly as everyone realized that there were enough life jackets in the boxes for everyone. These calm down things a little or did I just get that feeling? In fact more than the fear or the panic setting in, I think it was the shock factor that was creating most of the problems.
The shock does make people act so differently. Some passengers had completely forgotten which boat they were suppose to go, some of them could not even perform the simplest procedure of putting their life jacket. The most amusing thing in that situation was seeing a group of passengers singing Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic. Here the credit must go to the crew for forgetting their misery and helping the passengers to calm down and embark the waiting life boats. The 3rd step of an emergency The Abandon Ship was in progress now.
PASSENGERS BOARDING LIFE BOATS ON PROMENADE (PIC)
USING MONKEY LADDER TO GET DOWN (PIC)
1900HRS – 2000HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
The day light was disappearing fast, but luckily things were moving on rapidly. Few of the life boats had already been lowered and were away in the open ocean.
LIFE BOATS BEING LOWERED (PIC)
They had been advised to steer away clear of the Sun Vista but never to loose sight of the ship. Suddenly we hear a loud scream coming out of a life boat. Had it toppled over while being lowered down? All of us waiting for our life boat 14 to be lowered next rushed to the railing to see what was going on. It was shouts and screams coming out of life boat 10. The problem was pulley system, which seemed to have got stuck at the Forward (Fwd) end of the life boat. The life boat was hanging down precariously midway down the ship with its Fwd end raised and the Aft end down at an angle of 25 degrees. Someone somehow rectified the problem and the life boat was lowered down to safety before any disaster happened. This added to some more anxiety amongst the crew and guests waiting in life boat 14, which was next to be lowered down. Would our life boat malfunction too? While we were getting on out life boat my best friend on board Mr. Anand Yadav from Mumbai pulled me out of the line and told me something which I till now clearly remember “Dhiraj this ship will not sink, you stay here with me and don’t go on the life boat. Life boat will be very cramped and it will be difficult to survive there till u rescued by a merchant vessel that is about 6 hrs away.” I trusted him, being the 2nd Officer on board he had more experience in sailing matters than me as I was from a hotel background with no experience in sailing. With no duties for me to do on the life boat I decided to stay back on the ship with Anand and helped him lowering down the life boats.
ANAND IN ACTION LOWERING THE BOATS, NO PANIC FOR HIM (PIC)
Suddenly again we could hear some more screams and yelps coming out from below. This time it wasn’t the pulley that had mal-functioned instead it was a boat in water, whose engine had cut out and was drifting slowly under a boat that was slowly being lowered from the ship. I pointed out that to Anand who had the controls in hand and stopped lowering the boat immediately. Anand was in charge of the boat preparation party, he informed to the guy who was desperately trying to crank the engine on the 2-way radio to row the boat away from the ship first with the wooden oars provided. Another mishap was thankfully averted as lot of lives would have been lost with them being crushed under the weight of a life boat. Only 17 of us were left back on the ship now. By 2000hrs all the passengers were away in 18 life boats and 4 rafts, drifting away from the ill fated Sun Vista.
LIFE BOATS IN THE WATER (PIC)
2000HRS – 2100HRS, 20TH MAY, 1999
Back on board all 17 of us were asked to muster to the bridge. Our names and crew numbers were recorded in the minute’s book. The captain told us very clearly to stay on the bridge and not to venture anywhere until and unless told by him to do. Everyone’s movement was to be recorded in the minutes book to make sure of their where abouts. While lowering of the boats was happening, a tug boat had arrived at the scene and was helping in throwing water on the funnel to douse the fire.
TUG BOAT THROWING WATER ON THE SHIP (PIC)
There were glares being fired up glowing up the night sky beautifully. This was to show the location of the Sun Vista to those vessels who had started to respond to the distress signal sent by the captain at 1830 hrs.
I being the only non technical person left on board was given the task to get in touch with each of the 18 life rafts and the 4 life boats over the 2-way radio and tell them to huddle together in a group.
ALL BOATS HUDDLED TOGETHER (PIC)
I was asked to take a count of the number of Pax in each and report the number to the captain himself. Usually each boat/raft has a senior officer with a 2-way radio. This was to be done immediately as the 2-way radios which had been our lifelines so far were slowly getting their batteries discharged. After checking and rechecking and checking again the boats/rafts and adding 17 of us on board, I was still getting 2 pax short in my final report. There were supposed to be a total compliment of 1104 on board (632 crew+472 guests) as against the total number of 1102 I was getting. My heart skipped a few beats as the fact of missing 2 passengers on a burning ship sank in.
PART 3 TO FOLLOW
|22nd October 2008, 14:21||#36|
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Geeeeeeeeeeez man.. to have to go through all that ... Gives me chills to think of the situation you were in ...
Waiting for part 2 as others ... How many survived out of 472?
".....on a beautiful moon lit night, as all 19 of us watched in total shock and dismay from our life boat, the cruise liner M.V. Sun Vista slowly but steadily disappearing in front of our eyes in the Malacca strait......."
|22nd October 2008, 14:34||#37|
Join Date: Aug 2008
Thanked: 18 Times
huh! curiosity kills, come up with the rest deky.
i tried googling - and found this "On May 21st, 1999, the vessel suffered an engine room fire, which cut all power to the ship and caused her to sink. All 1,090 passengers and crew were safely evacuated."
EDIT : After I clicked on the submit button, noticed the rest of your write-up coming up.
Last edited by MuraliR : 22nd October 2008 at 14:36.
|22nd October 2008, 15:22||#39|
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Jeez mate, what an experience. Thank god it all turned out well and there were no casualties.
|22nd October 2008, 16:08||#40|
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|22nd October 2008, 16:47||#41|
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Deky, many hearts are skipping a beat too, as we wait for your continued story...
Thanks for the link, Reddy --- I want to stay with Deky as the story unfolds, but will certainly look at that site after the end.
Last edited by Thad E Ginathom : 22nd October 2008 at 16:50.
|22nd October 2008, 17:17||#42|
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|22nd October 2008, 21:52||#45|
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I think this is one of the best written real life stories I have ever read and believe me I do read a lot. You should seriously consider writing film scripts and also talk to Reader's Digest. You certainly know how to keep your readers gripped - a rare quality in a writer.
And deservedly it got five stars - the only five star travelogue in a long time on tbhp that doesn't talk about a road trip to the mighty Himalayas (the last four five travelogues on t-bhp are all about Himalaya only).
However, I wonder if this can be called a travelogue and whether it should be in the travel section - of course it deals with a tourist vessel and talks about tourists. But is it really a travelogue? It is a lot beyond that.
Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 22nd October 2008 at 21:56.
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