(BARBADOS TODAY) – The traumatic experience, which left 352 passengers stranded on the open seas for several hours on Saturday, is being blamed on an electrical problem.
The management of the MV Dream Chaser sought to explain the events in a statement issued last night.
“Our vessel was sailing in the vicinity of Carlisle Bay and encountered an electrical problem; this problem rendered steering the vessel impossible. As the Captain realized that he would be unable to bring the vessel back in to dock safely, he prudently took the decision to send out a distress call to our Barbados Coast Guard, requesting assistance, as is within our safety protocols,” the statement said.
They explained that the over 5-hour ordeal was prolonged after attempts to rectify the problem was unsuccessful.
“The Coast Guard, as expected, responded promptly and assessed the situation. After trying to access and rectify the problem, in the open waters, the Coast Guard and Management took the prudent decision to bring in the vessel and allow the disembarkation of our patrons in order to deal directly with the steering problem,” the statement continued.
Russell Wilson, one of the part owners of the boat, said suggestions that there weren’t enough life jacks were simply not true.
He told Barbados TODAY that management never issued the life jackets to patrons in the first place.
He said that in the heat of the moment patrons took it upon themselves to put on the life jackets.
“There are a lot more untruths floating around than there are facts. The life jackets are stored in bins and when I got on deck there were bins [containing life jackets] that weren’t even opened. The people that put on the life vest did so out of fear,” Wilson said.
He said in order to operate in Barbados, they were required by the Coast Guard to have 625 life jackets.
“By law, maritime law, you are only required to wear safety vest if you are changing from one boat to another, if you are getting off and if there is danger of the vessel sinking, it is a flotation device and not meant for anything else.”
Wilson also dispelled the rumour that the boat was in danger of capsizing and management instructed partygoers to lay in the centre to balance it out.
“The Dream Chaser is 103 feet long and 100 tons, its not going to roll in sections. The whole vessel would roll as one, so when the vessel took a hit from the wave it would have felt as if the boat went up and when it came back down the steel hit the water and made a very loud noise.”
While not given any exact time frame when cruises will resume, Wilson told Barbados TODAY that the boat is back up and running.