Her Majesty’s Coast Guard in the United Kingdom has called off the search for a crew member who went overboard from the German-operated cruise ship, AIDAperla.

The incident that transpired on the morning of October 22, 2023, brought together a host of search and rescue teams searching for any signs of the missing crew member.

The ADIA cruise ship was en route from Hamburg to Spain, making its way towards La Coruña, with the incident occurring near Ramsgate in the United Kingdom. AIDAperla has resumed her course toward Spain, and HM Coast Guard vessels have returned to their base.

The search for a missing crew member who went overboard from the cruise ship AIDAperla on  October 22 has been unsuccessful. After a search that took nearly all of Sunday, the conclusion was that the crew member stood little chance of surviving, considering that the English Channel has a water temperature of around 14 degrees Celsius, or 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

The incident occurred around 08:00 AM on Sunday while AIDAperla was navigating the English Channel near Ramsgate, roughly 20 miles north of the southeast coast of England, en route from Hamburg to Spain. 

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was among the first to respond, with its crew out of Ramsgate being alerted at 8:20 AM, followed swiftly by a Dover team 15 minutes later.

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HM Coastguard deployed a search and rescue helicopter, a Coastguard fixed-wing aircraft, and coordinated the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats from Ramsgate and Dover. The Captain of AIDAperla commenced search patterns around the area of the incident. 

Despite all parties’ efforts, the nine-hour search did not yield the outcome everyone hoped for. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed the end of the search around 6 PM local time on Sunday. “At about 6 PM on October 22, the search was ended for a man reported overboard from a passenger ship off Ramsgate.”

The Telegraph reports that the Captain confirmed the end of the search attempts in an announcement: “The Coastguard has cancelled the search as twilight set in, and the crew member who fell overboard is unfortunately left with very little chance.”

In a statement, AIDA Cruises extended its thoughts to the missing person’s family and colleagues, maintaining close contact with them and the AIDAperla crew. 

The 124,100 gross-ton vessel, which has space for 3,400 guests and a crew of 900, has continued on its voyage and is scheduled to arrive in La Coruna, Spain, on October 23. The cruise will continue to the Canary Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and conclude in La Romana, Dominican Republic, on November 9.

The unfortunate incident sheds light on the inherent risks associated with cruise vacations and working onboard cruise ships despite stringent safety measures. 

Among those measures are man overboard systems, a blend of video surveillance and motion sensors designed to detect and alert the crew when someone goes overboard. 

Cruise ships also operate with several emergency response procedures, which include coordinated ship-wide drills such as Code Oscar training for search and rescue operations, and are equipped with specialized rescue boats ready for rapid deployment, further improving the chances of a successful rescue​​.

Additional preventive measures include higher railings, offset decks, CCTV, and increased security to stop individuals from venturing into unsafe areas​. Despite these measures, the tragic event onboard AIDAperla underscores the fact that safety measures mitigate but cannot avoid accidents.

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