Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Taking Action: Behind-the-Scenes of the Gibraltar Pier Explosion

My name is Svein Taklo and I am the Vice President of Marine Operations for Royal Caribbean International and RCL Cruises, Ltd. based in the UK.  My focus is on the day to day safe, compliant and reliable operations of our vessels worldwide.  As a company operating cruise ships, we are governed by a set of specific rules and regulations on an international level and we constantly strive to meet and exceed those requirements as we know that our guests (or “cargo” as us maritime folks affectionately refer to our customers) are quite a bit more valuable than what the average ship in the world is carrying! 

Parts of our compliance requirements include the training of our crew in emergency procedures.  While the regulations require certain details to be covered, our unique operations require additional focus on particular risks associated with the cruise industry.  We have the responsibility for the safety of hundreds of thousands of guests and crew in over 400 ports each year and we take that responsibility very seriously.  One of our procedures which goes above and beyond the basic emergency response requirements is to be able to respond to unforeseen events while the vessel is alongside in a port of call.  While this normally relates to situations such as a surprising change in weather conditions which may affect the normal gangway operations and the vessel’s ability to remain alongside, occasionally we deal with issues related to the ports of call in which we are docked such as with the recent situation in Gibraltar

Our nautical and port services departments go through a rigorous process of evaluating the ports of call we visit around the world; however, the shipping industry is a very dynamic environment and occasionally we are exposed to unique challenges. The explosion on the pier in Gibraltar falls into this category. 

Our pre-departure procedures include a briefing on the bridge and in the engine control room which gather all involved officers together to discuss the planned departure and specifically the nautical conditions and maneuver to be performed.  On that day, the explosion happened just after our bridge officers had completed their pre-departure briefing and the Captain was standing by on the bridge wing, ready to maneuver when the explosion occurred. 

His immediate response and that of our engineering crew to provide propulsion control to the bridge quickly helped to allow the vessel to depart and increase the distance between the ship and the fire, within 3 minutes of the explosion.  We also owe a big thanks to the local Gibraltar line handlers on the pier who bravely cast off our lines to allow the ship to depart as quickly as possible.

At the time of the explosion nobody would have faulted these workers for immediately running away from a dangerous situation. Again, the action taken by theses brave workers need to be recognized and if they had not responded in the way they did we would have had to cut our mooring lines which would have increased the time for us to move away from the pier.

Independence of the Seas

Once the Independence of the Seas was safely away from the port, and the Captain confirmed all injured guests were being properly attended to, he made contact with shoreside support personnel and we immediately convened our shoreside Situation Management Team on a conference call with the ship to provide ongoing support to the guests and crew.  We also made contact with our regulatory authorities to advise them of the situation and ensured guests and crew onboard the ship were updated through public address announcements. 

The quick action of our onboard security personnel in reviewing our closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras gave us very clear insight into the situation just before, during and after the explosion and our footage was found valuable by the local investigators. We were happy to provide them with our CCTV footage as well as witness statements in support of their ongoing investigation. 

While this was quite a stressful day for our guests, crew and shoreside personnel, our procedures kicked into high gear.  Thirteen guests visited the medical facility as a result of the explosion and we are happy that we did not have a higher number of guest injuries.

Prior to joining Royal Caribbean in March 1998 my career onboard ships ranged from fishing vessels at the age of 19 to Coast Guard ships, Cargo ships and Oil tankers as well as Cruise ships. Given the dynamic environment we operate in, we have to be prepared for the unexpected and we are well aware that on calm and routine days we are only a phone call away from a situation that might require our immediate attention and support. Whenever we get a call of an emergency from one of our ships, our Shoreside support efforts are mobilized and at times we do experience an adrenaline rush as the emergency response efforts kick into high gear. 

The ship personnel are on scene and living the experience while we are in our offices many miles, and some cases, several time zones away trying our best to assist.  In these situations, I always find it important to remember my past career, and try to put myself in their shoes in order to respond appropriately and efficiently, and provide the right level of support. 

In closing, on behalf of Adam and myself, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Captain Arnolf Remo and the rest of the Independence of the Seas crew on an emergency situation well handled.  While we continually work to prepare, train and drill our shipboard and shoreside staff to be ready for such situations, but all situations are unique in nature and require some quick thinking and creative response.  I’m sure many of you have experienced emergency situations and we never know how we will react, but I think we can agree that if we all reacted to an emergency situation as well as the crew of the Independence of the Seas and the Gibraltar Authorities we would be proud of our response.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Close

Connect With us

Tab indicator
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@NikkiObraVIP We’re ready to go when you are.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@_SookStackHouse Visit http://t.co/2rot9w0Jbs to view all available openings. Good luck!
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@tmsc14 Can you please tell us which ship you were waiting to board? Thank you.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@Anju_Gattani We're sorry to hear about this. Please visit http://t.co/m7V1fNzmgd to provide us with more details of your experience.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@antonia_chelle So soon! What are you most excited for onboard?
Explore even more of the world. See where your favorite ship is sailing from in 2015.
When are you constantly moving, but always in the same place? 
#allureoftheseas  
Next step in building #QuantumOfTheSeas: putting the azipods into place.
Countdown to November: Today the final block of #QuantumOfTheSeas was moved into place. 
You've got questions, he's got answers. CEO Adam Goldstein is hosting a Google hangout today at 1:30 / 12:30 CST to talk about Quantum dining: http://bit.ly/1g4n6du 
Watch Adam Goldstein and Moderator Colleen McDaniel as they answer questions and discuss the latest innovations coming to Quantum of the Seas
Get a taste of our next Quantum reveal. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement next week.
Disembark to a new world. #norway  
So much more to explore.  #stmaarten  
The options are endless.  #allureoftheseas  

JavaScript and Flash are required to view video content. View the playlist on YouTube.

  • Swim with dolphins i Swim with dolphins in Roatan, Honduras. 14 hours + 57 minutes ago
  • Glowing pink sunset Glowing pink sunset in Bathsheba Beach, Barbados. 14 hours + 57 minutes ago
  • Bridgetown, Barbados Bridgetown, Barbados in the crystal clear Caribbean. 14 hours + 57 minutes ago
  • A taste of the Medit A taste of the Mediterranean. The Greek farro salad at Michael's Genuine Pub is made from the freshest ingredients available. ... 1 day + 14 hours ago
  • The banana toffee pa The banana toffee panini. Simple, sweet, sublime. Enjoy it this November at Michael's Genuine Pub. #MGPUB #quantumoftheseas ... 1 day + 14 hours ago
  • The ultimate comfort The ultimate comfort food: thick-cut potato chips with pan-fried onion dip pairs perfectly with Michael’s Genuine Home Brew. ... 1 day + 14 hours ago
  • Love 150 Central Par Love 150 Central Park? We're partnering with Michael Schwartz again to create his newest restaurant onboard Quantum of the ... 1 day + 15 hours ago
  • See every shade of b See every shade of blue. #caribbean 2 days + 10 hours ago
  • See you soon. #oasis See you soon. #oasisoftheseas #cruise 2 days + 12 hours ago
  • Cool your feet in Du Cool your feet in Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica. 2 days + 14 hours ago
  • The banana toffee panini. Simple, sweet, sublime. Follow the link our profile to see the full menu for Michael's Genuine Pub.
  • A taste of the Mediterranean. The Greek farro salad at Michael's Genuine Pub, made from the freshest ingredients available. (Follow the link in our profile to see the full menu.)
  • The ultimate comfort food: thick-cut potato chips with pan-fried onion dip. Coming this November to Michael's Genuine Pub onboard Quantum of the Seas. (Link to full menu in our profile.)
  • Love 150 Central Park? We're partnering with Michael Schwartz again to create his newest restaurant onboard Quantum of the Seas. All this week we're giving you a sneak peek of the menu (or follow the
  • When are you constantly moving, but always in the same place?
  • Your chance to be the captain.
  • Skip along the tree tops in St. Maarten.
  • Not to be missed in Labadee: speeding 30 mph down the Santa Maria Mountain on our Dragon's Tail coaster.
  • We're one step closer to Quantum's maiden voyage. The construction team at Meyer Werft
 in Papenburg, Germany has moved her azipods into place.
  • See CocoCay by kayak (and check in this weekend for our favorite adventures in Labadee and St. Maarten, too).
Why Everyone Should Get Involved and Volunteer Everywhere

Friday, April 18, 2014 11:50 AM

GIVE Day (Get Involved Volunteer Everywhere) is the corporate global volunteer day for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and is our largest employee community event. My name is Helen O’Connell, Manager... Continue Here to Read More…

Quantum Class Ships: Empowering Guests to Take Full Control of Their Dining Experience

Thursday, April 10, 2014 2:14 PM

Hi everyone. I’m excited to begin our Quantum of the Seas blog series by sharing details about a new approach to dining at sea onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum Class ships. Our... Continue Here to Read More…

How to Connect with a Colleague When You Have Conflicting Interests

Monday, March 10, 2014 10:11 AM

We are not all the same.  Not in life and not in business.  As a consequence, maintaining a healthy perspective on differences among people is a critical success factor in a business career. Some... Continue Here to Read More…

Humorous Travel Stories

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 3:30 PM

It might be my impending trip to Shanghai for dinner with four red eye flights in five nights.  I want to believe this will be tolerable.  So I find myself thinking of some of the humorous things I... Continue Here to Read More…

Why We Needed Bumper Cars to Go Head to Head

Friday, February 14, 2014 1:56 PM

Guest post by Nick Weir I’m Nick Weir, the Vice President of Entertainment at Royal Caribbean International.  As usual we’ve been hard at work and are very focused on Quantum of the Seas in... Continue Here to Read More…

She’s Back…Navigator of the Seas Emerges After Massive Makeover

Friday, February 7, 2014 6:20 PM

Guest blog by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo It’s a very exciting week for us here at Royal Caribbean International. After spending a month in drydock, we’re pleased to announce Navigator of the Seas is... Continue Here to Read More…

Productivity Hacks: Build a Great Team at Work and at Home

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 12:35 PM

When you live at the outer limits of multitasking, you never feel productive enough. So it’s nice of LinkedIn to assign a topic on the premise that I am in fact productive. Time is the scarce... Continue Here to Read More…

Why Project Radiance Didn’t Turn Out as Planned

Monday, January 13, 2014 3:00 PM

A reader recently asked if there was a time where I did something and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, and what I did after that.  There are probably many relevant examples, but the one... Continue Here to Read More…

The Importance of Shipyard Visits

Monday, January 6, 2014 5:59 PM

Recently I visited both shipyards that are currently building ships for Royal Caribbean International.  First I traveled to Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany (builders of Quantum of the Seas,... Continue Here to Read More…

Looking Forward to 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:17 PM

Happy New Year to all of our loyal readers and especially to our loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers.  As we head from one intense year in the cruise industry to the next, I would like to express my... Continue Here to Read More…