One of the largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, is the subject of worldwide media attention after a catastrophic shipyard accident injured eight shipyard workers. The massive cruise liner was resting at dry dock and undergoing routine maintenance in the Great Bahamas Shipyard near Freeport, Bahamas when a construction crane fell over onto the deck of the cruise ship.
By sheer good fortune, the crane happened to fall during the workers’ lunch hour. A crew foreman was quoted as saying more workers would have been injured had the crane fallen even an hour earlier or later in the day. It is also fortunate that the cruise ship happened to be out of service at the time of the accident. There were no passengers on the ship when the crane fell.
Shipyard Accident Injures 8, Causes Damage
The structures of the ship, specifically the decks, were badly damaged. The crane that fell is also badly damaged. Pictures and video showing the gigantic crane crushing against the decks of the cruise ship spread rapidly across social media within hours of the disaster.
The ship is massive, with a capacity of more than 6,500 guests when it is in service. It also has capacity for more than 2,000 crew members. Most often, the Oasis of the Seas sails from ports in Florida. The cruise liner had just completed a crowded voyage within days of the shipyard accident.
At this time neither the workers on the ground, any eyewitnesses, nor the owners of the ship know what caused the crane to fall. At the moment, the company is still assessing damages.
The eight people injured in the shipyard accident were all laborers working on the ship to prepare her for the Fall/Winter season. The ship was not docked for major repairs but was receiving routine maintenance and care before sailing to Miami to start a new season of cruising.
Initially when the crane fell, the scene on the ground was chaos. For the first several hours after the incident many of the eight injured workers were considered missing. Three days passed before Royal Caribbean, who owns the ship, made an announcement disclosing the total number of injuries. Their statement indicates that, though eight workers were injured in this shipyard accident, none of the injuries are life-threatening.
The Chaos at the Scene
Perhaps the reason this story captured worldwide attention is due to a video posted on social media by an anonymous dock worker the day of the incident. He was present on the deck when the crane fell and narrowly avoided catastrophic injury. He said, “I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.”
The crane was in use at a nearby construction site and miraculously did not harm anyone on the ground. All of the injured victims in this shipyard accident were dock workers on the deck of the Oasis of the Seas.
Interviews from eyewitnesses refer to this accident as a disaster and frequently remark on the incredibly loud noise and the panic at the scene, especially during the time when the injured workers were initially missing.
An Unlucky Cruise Ship?
The Oasis of the Seas sailed for the first time in December 2009 and is worth $1.5 billion. The massive ocean liner was last in the news when more than 150 passengers on a week-long trip became ill with norovirus, a foodborne illness.
Though notoriously superstitious, none of the crew members, shipyard workers, or other employees of the cruise ship have made any comment on the bad luck that apparently attends this ill-fated vessel.
Cruise Ship Worker Injuries
Tongue-in-cheek comments aside, ports and shipyards are among some of the most dangerous workplaces in the world. A disaster of the magnitude of this shipyard accident is relatively rare, but shipyard worker injuries are sadly common. The following are some of the most common types of injuries shipyard workers sustain:
- Crane injuries – Most crane injuries are caused by the heavy loads they move and the industrial cables in use. Cargo can slip from the grasp of the crane, or hauling cables can snap and cause catastrophic injury to shipyard workers.
- Falls from ladders and steps – Ships are famously replete with ladders and steps. Maritime workers and dock workers are generally light-footed and nimble as they move about the ship. However falls and slips are some of the most common injuries among workers.
- Traumatic bodily injuries – Heavy loads and heavy machinery combine to create dangerous conditions for shipyard workers. Head injuries, limb amputations, concussions, and crush injuries are all hazards that maritime workers face.
- Drowning – Any work that takes place near or on the open sea comes with the risk of drowning. Drowning and hypothermia are two risks that shipyard workers face every day at work.
Injured in a Shipyard Accident? Consult with Maritime Injury Attorneys
Shore-based workers who sustain injury while working on a vessel docked in navigable waters are entitled to the protections offered in the Jones Act. Unfortunately for the workers injured in this shipyard accident, the Oasis of the Seas was docked in a shipyard. Therefore, the Jones act does not apply.
The Longshore Harbor and Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) protects workers injured while not on navigable waters but rather in nearby areas such as in shipyards. Maritime workers protected under the LHWCA may seek damages for their injuries and lost wages. Not all Maritime workers will qualify for relief under the LHWCA. Speak to a maritime injury attorney to learn more.
Maritime Injury Guide attorneys appreciate the daily dangers that shipyard workers face. We know that navigating the complicated laws surrounding shipyard accidents can be daunting. Our attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured maritime workers. We can help guide you through this trying time. If you have been injured while working at a dock, harbor, or shipyard, call 1-877-363-6148, or submit our online contact form.