Coast Guard Rescues Silversea Passenger from Atlantic

November 22, 2009
Silver Shadow Cruise Ship (4:26 p.m. EST) -- This morning, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a 62-year-old Silver Shadow passenger from the ocean, about 20 miles east of Miami. The man, identified as Ronald Shulman, was reported missing around 3 a.m. and was pulled from the waters around 7:45 a.m. The ship's medical staff reported him as slightly hypothermic but having no major injuries.

We spoke with Petty Officer First Class Jennifer Johnson, who told us that the Coast Guard received the "man overboard" call around 3 a.m. They sent the patrol boat Dolphin to the scene and launched a rescue helicopter as well. Though it took hours to locate the missing man, the ship's crew actually spotted him first -- he had drifted about eight or nine miles north of where he had been reported missing -- and threw him a life ring and a flare. As the ship's crew prepared to lower a rescue boat into the water, the Coast Guard helicopter arrived on the scene and deployed a rescue swimmer, who then helped Shulman into the boat, which returned to the ship.

Cruise Critic member duct tape was onboard Silver Shadow, and describes the scene onboard: "We were awakened at 3:30 AM by the CD [Cruise Director], announcing an emergency: man overboard. We were asked to check that our cabin mates were present and report any missing individual....We had to remain on station and wait. About 7:20 AM the Captain yelled Evacuation Station NOW! and all the folks on the starboard side could see a man in the water, waving his arms and yelling HELP! A flare was thrown near him and the helicopter circled in and dropped a frogman into the water and the guest was picked up. What great Silversea staff and crew work and support from the USCG!!"

Because of the rescue, the ship's arrival in its debarkation port of Fort Lauderdale was delayed. Member joefromchicago reports, "We showed up to board at 10:30 and were told not to return until 3:00." Silversea spokesman Brad Ball tells us that debarkation "wasn't delayed too long."

Neither the Coast Guard nor Silversea could tell us how Shulman came to fall overboard, or if he jumped. It's not often that a person goes overboard from a luxury ship. Shulman's survival is credited to his ability to tread water and stay afloat for hours, as well as the relatively warm Florida waters.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor