Search for crew member reported overboard from AIDAperla called off

Oct 23, 2023

The search for a crew member who went overboard from the cruise ship AIDAperla in the English Channel has sadly been called off. This incident unfolded on Sunday, October 22, near the Kent coast, not far from Ramsgate. The search and rescue operations were coordinated by HM Coastguard, with a Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lydd, a Coastguard fixed-wing aircraft, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's (RNLI) all-weather lifeboats from Ramsgate and Dover. Despite the efforts and resources, the search operation had to be discontinued on the evening of October 22.

AIDA Cruises released a statement regarding the incident, stating, "In the search for a missing crew member in the sea area of the English Channel/Strait of Dover, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Dover took over the further coordination of the search yesterday morning. It involved official ships, a helicopter, and AIDAperla. Unfortunately, the search has so far been unsuccessful. AIDAperla was released from the search operation by the MRCC Dover after dark at around 6:15 PM (on October 22) and resumed its journey towards La Coruña. It is expected there on October 24 at around 9 AM."

The AIDAperla was sailing from Hamburg, Germany, to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at the time of the incident. The journey was already affected by an eight-hour delay due to severe weather caused by Storm Babet. Departing at 2 AM, the ship had initially planned to shorten one of its stops on the route to Las Palmas. It was during this altered journey that the crew member was discovered missing at approximately 8 AM UK time.

AIDA stated that the ship's captain and crew had promptly initiated all necessary rescue measures, closely coordinating with local authorities. The ship was halted, and a thorough search was conducted in the area where the incident was believed to have occurred.

The circumstances surrounding how the crew member went overboard remain unclear, and it is uncertain whether adverse weather conditions played a role in the incident. The search and rescue teams concentrated their efforts on a five-square-kilometer area of the Channel for most of the day, gradually expanding their search. Unfortunately, the missing crew member was not located, and his whereabouts remained unknown.

Experts had indicated that the chances of survival for the missing crew member were slim even before nightfall, with the water temperature in the English Channel hovering around 14 degrees Celsius. The ship continued its journey along the south coast of England, marking the end of a day marked by a tragic and challenging search operation.