Passengers left stranded after Caribe Breeze found to have multiple safety violations

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Nearly 120 disappointed passengers bound for Barbuda yesterday were left stranded on the shores of Antigua after a passenger vessel was deemed unfit for operation by officials.
The Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) has withdrawn a safety certificate for the vessel Caribe Breeze after it was found to be in violation of multiple safety requirements.
Caribe Breeze along with several other vessels were contracted to transport participants in the American Passengers left stranded after Caribe Breeze found to have multiple safety violations The passenger vessel Caribe Breeze had its safety certificate withdrawn yesterday by ADOMS officials after failing safety checks. (Photo courtesy ADOMS) Passengers for the AUA Rohrman Antigua-Barbuda triathlon were left stranded and confused after not being able to leave Antigua for Barbuda. (Photo contributed) University of Antigua (AUA) Rohrman Antigua challenge, an annual triathlon held in memory of Jonathan Rohr who died suddenly in 2011 due to previously undetected h y p e r t r o p h i c cardiomyopathy. He was at the time known to have been training heavily for an athletic event in Antigua that he helped to organize.
Early yesterday morning, 117 persons – including children and their parents – were already onboard Caribe Breeze expecting to travel from the mainland to the sister isle for the event.
However, authorities from ADOMS were concerned for the safety of the passengers after receiving reports that the vessel exceeded the number of people it was licensed to transport and lacked the required safety equipment on board.
According to the Chief Marine Surveyor for ADOMS, Thomas Robinson, Caribe Breeze had obtained a temporary small commercial vessel safety certificate last month (February 2019), after multiple issues were discovered on board the vessel – including the lack of lifesaving gear, safe manning personnel, and fire extinguishers.
This temporary safety certificate only allowed the vessel to transport 40 passengers and four crew members until the safety equipment deficiencies were addressed.
Robinson said in addition to the lack of safety equipment, he found that the vessel also recently hired a new crew who were unfamiliar with safety protocols such as fire drills.
The Director and Registrar General for ADOMS, Ambassador Dwight Gardiner, said the safety of persons on board the vessel was of vital importance to the authority, but they are willing to issue Caribe Breeze a new safety certificate once they have fulfilled all safety requirements.
“We believe that the safety, security and welfare of all passengers and crew members is paramount,” Gardiner said, adding that, “The recommendations that Caribe Breeze was given must be fulfilled before it can expect to traverse through the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda.”
Meanwhile, the organizers for yesterday’s event informed OBSERVER that the crew operating Caribe Breeze at the time did not inform them of the multiple safety issues.
Passengers who could not travel on board Caribe Breeze were reimbursed.

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