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
@troyboy78 Our SeaPass system places the final charge to your card in the same currency that the reservation was made http://t.co/1Ph8hCgk7H
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@belunyc What'd you think, would you do it again?
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@GoldfishBoal At this time Independence of the Seas does not have the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine onboard.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
Photo thanks to guest passionfruitslushie.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
Sail above the rest. http://t.co/mOYrMUtoy3
Sightsee from your deck chair.

#royalwow views captured by guest poordany on Instagram.
Vacation over too quickly? Sail back to back on Oasis of the Seas this fall and experience Europe like never before.
http://bit.ly/1lRMvKl
Some of our favorite guest photos from Labadee. http://bit.ly/1iKMoVI
We had an amazing time showcasing Quantum Dining in Aspen. Thank you to our friends at +FOOD & WINE http://bit.ly/QuantumDining
Go behind-the-scenes of some of our favorite onboard shows. http://bit.ly/1m0EMOv
In case you missed it, watch our Quantum Entertainment Hangout with Kristin Chenoweth here: Live Google+ Hangout with Kristin Chenoweth and Nick Weir
All-new shows and a Broadway favorite - Quantum of the Seas will have it all. Explore the world-class entertainment onboard: http://bit.ly/QOTSEnt
Don't miss out - join our Hangout with Kristin Chenoweth at 4:00pm EST for a special #QuantumOfTheSeas Entertainment announcement, live from the +Hyde Bellagio in Las Vegas: http://bit.ly/KChenEntHangout
Questions about Quantum Entertainment? We’ve got you covered. Join Kristin Chenoweth on 6/11 at 4pm EST for a Hangout live from Las Vegas: http://bit.ly/1oDtVKX
Fort Morro: adventure 500 years in the making. #sanjuan 

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

  • Beautiful Balos Beac Beautiful Balos Beach, Crete. #greece 9 hours + 20 minutes ago
  • Colorful dresses in Colorful dresses in Malaga, Spain. 9 hours + 20 minutes ago
  • Dubrovnik, Croatia p Dubrovnik, Croatia perched on the edge of the Adriatic Sea. 9 hours + 20 minutes ago
  • Sansone Beach, Tusca Sansone Beach, Tuscany. 9 hours + 20 minutes ago
  • Chrysopigi, Sifnos, Chrysopigi, Sifnos, Greece. 9 hours + 20 minutes ago
  • We promise you'll ne We promise you'll never be bored. 11 hours + 37 minutes ago
  • Caribbean bound. Caribbean bound. 1 day + 12 hours ago
  • Stingray City, Grand Stingray City, Grand Cayman. 1 day + 12 hours ago
  • Beach perfection in Beach perfection in Grand Cayman. 1 day + 12 hours ago
  • Smathers Beach in Ke Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida. 1 day + 12 hours ago
  • Sail above the rest.
  • Nothing says vacation like sunsets at sea. #royalwow
  • Our favorite place to chill out. #alaska
  • Next stop: Jamaica. @AwesomenessTV's @yomuscleboii climbs one of our favorites, Dunn's River Falls. Follow the link in our bio to watch the latest episode.
  • Every day should be a beach day. #stthomas
  • Arrive in style.
  • Swim. Sun. Lounge. Repeat.
  • Leave your inhibitions at the door with Wink, an adults-only showcase.
  • Spanning from the stage to mezzanine, the Earth Harp will bring the Royal Theater to life.
  • Drummer's paradise: the unbelievable Drum Wall is made of 136 drums and is exclusive to Quantum of the Seas' Sonic Odyssey show.
Royal Caribbean at the Food & Wine Classic

Monday, July 21, 2014 11:52 AM

By Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International I recently returned from Aspen, Colorado where Royal Caribbean International was the official cruise... Continue Here to Read More…

Have You Cruised on 30 Royal Caribbean Cruise Ships?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 10:07 AM

By Adam Goldstein, President &amp; COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Less than four months to Quantum of the Seas! As one of my law professors like to say, the “relentless march of the... Continue Here to Read More…

Royal Caribbean Expands Cruise Vacation Offerings in Asia

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 8:30 AM

By Adam Goldstein, President &amp; COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. My latest travels brought me back to Asia the week of June 16 – 20.  As always, the pace and energy of the region are... Continue Here to Read More…

Personal Plans for the Second Half of 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014 9:51 AM

Blog by Adam A quick update on my other doings as the “empty nest” approaches even faster than the delivery of Quantum of the Seas. Our family continues our involvement with many aspects of... Continue Here to Read More…

How Entertainment on Quantum & Anthem Will Transcend Anything You've Seen on Land or Sea

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:22 PM

Blog by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, Executive Vice President, Operations, Royal Caribbean International Hello, everyone.  Last week I had the pleasure of being in Las Vegas where we announced the amazing... Continue Here to Read More…

Catching the Travel Bug: My Explorations through SEED

Friday, June 20, 2014 11:18 AM

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s community support efforts often focus on education and social services for underserved youth. Over the years I have written from time to time about my long term... Continue Here to Read More…

Kristin Chenoweth Talks Entertainment on Quantum of the Seas

Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:05 PM

Blog entry by Kristin Chenoweth Kristin Chenoweth is a Tony and Emmy Award winning Broadway, film, and television actress. She is also the official Quantum Experience Advisor for Entertainment and... Continue Here to Read More…

How to Take Advantage of Opportunities Across the Globe

Monday, June 9, 2014 11:27 AM

It seems fitting to write this from a shipyard in Germany, because what I wish I had known when I was 22 was how global and networked my business and my life would become. When I was 22, the only... Continue Here to Read More…

Official Royal Caribbean Cruise Schedule for 2015-2016

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 3:57 PM

We announce the upcoming deployment of our ships throughout the first half of each calendar year. We typically state what they’re going to be doing from one year in the future until two years in the... Continue Here to Read More…

An Easier Way to Plan for a Group Vacation

Friday, May 16, 2014 11:02 AM

It has been a while since my last blog, however I recently returned from my first multi-generational family vacation and I want to share some thoughts about that experience with you. You may be... Continue Here to Read More…