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Cruise ship saves pair of Atlantic sailors

Norwegian Dawn, subject of a 2005 investigation, responds to two medical emergencies in 12 hours

Norwegian Dawn, subject of a 2005 investigation, responds to two medical emergencies in 12 hours

The Norwegian Dawn, the cruise ship that was the subject of an investigation three years ago when it was damaged in a storm off the mid-Atlantic, was a welcome sight for the crews of two sailboats earlier this summer.

On June 30, the cruise ship assisted the Coast Guard in two separate rescues within 12 hours involving 40-foot sailboats returning from the Newport Bermuda Race. In the first rescue the crew of the J/122 Patriot, skippered by Stephen J. Furnary, activated its EPIRB because of a medical emergency on board, according to Benjamin Strong, Coast Guard director of Amver (Automated

Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue) maritime relations.

The distress signal was received by Coast Guard First District headquarters in Boston shortly after 9 a.m., and an HU-25 Falcon jet was deployed from Air Station Cape Cod. Meanwhile, the Norwegian Dawn, 52 miles from Patriot, was located and contacted using the Amver system, the Coast Guard-sponsored computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system that coordinates rescues at sea. At 9:30 a.m. the cruise ship was asked to divert to the Patriot to evacuate a 43-year-old crewmember, who was experiencing stroke-like symptoms and suffering from shock, according to Strong.

Capt. Trygve Vorren navigated the 965-foot cruise ship alongside the sailboat, with the Falcon on scene, and a small boat was deployed to retrieve the sailor. Seas were running about 5 feet and winds about 35 knots. The victim was safely transferred to the small boat and then the ship, where he was treated by the ship’s physician.

At 7 p.m., Vorren received the second request from the Coast Guard for assistance. Strong says the crew aboard the J/40 Misty notified the CoastGuardAtlanticAreaRescueCoordinationCenter by satellite phone that a 55-year-old crewmember had a serious head injury and was losing consciousness. The call was transferred to First District headquarters, where the Amver system showed the Norwegian Dawn about 25 nautical miles from Misty, which was 260 miles south of Montauk, N.Y. Though conditions had deteriorated, with 25-foot seas and 50-knot winds, the ship again deployed a small boat. The sailor was safely transferred to the ship for treatment, including five stitches to the forehead.

The passengers aboard Norwegian Dawn were unaffected by the diversions, and the ship arrived in Bermuda July 2 as scheduled, according to Courtney Recht, manager of public relations for Norwegian Cruise Line. “This ship is no stranger to saving distressed boaters,” says Recht in an e-mail to Soundings. “In 2005, the Norwegian Dawn was diverted to search for an overdue sailboat in the Caribbean.”

Norwegian Dawn made headlines several years ago when it was roughed up by a powerful mid-Atlantic storm, prompting a number of complaints from passengers. On April 16, 2005, the Bahamian-registered cruise ship found itself in a storm with 40-foot waves and high winds during a return trip to New York from a Caribbean tour.

During the worst of the storm, the large ship slammed into what cruise line officials said was a 70-foot “freak” wave, which caused damage up to the 10th or 11th deck and sent seawater into about 60 cabins, according to reports. Investigators believe the large, long waves lifted the ship’s stern, driving the bow into an oncoming wave, causing green water to climb as high as the bridge deck.

There had been allegations — denied by Norwegian Cruise Lines — that the captain was pushing to get Norwegian Dawn back to New York, where it was to be used as a set for the television series “The Apprentice.”

Both the Bahamian Maritime Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the incident and found no fault with either the cruise line or the ship’s captain. The NTSB found that the probable cause of the damage and injuries to several passengers was “waves breaking over the bow during the ship’s unavoidable encounter with severe weather and heavy seas.”