100 Cruise Passengers Injured in Bay of Biscay Storm

By some reports, the waves were running between 30 and 45 feet with winds up to 70 mph.

"While sailing through the Bay of Biscay, the punishing winds and choppy waters caught up with them, and around 12:30pm the conditions were so rough that the ship’s automatic safety system was activated.

The vessel’s engines fired and jerked the ship into a tight turn, which allegedly caused injuries, but Mr Reynolds says many passengers had been injured before this happened."

I know nary a thing about cruise ships but what automatic safety system would cause “The vessel’s engines fired and jerked the ship into a tight turn” ?

This one probably.

Hurricane-Force Storm to affect Bay of Biscay and English Channel Approaches - #2 by fredwx

QUOTE" The 58,250 gross ton cruise ship was caught in a fierce Bay of Biscay storm taking the unusual step of going “hove to” in the storm to reduce further injuries and danger for the passengers.END QUOTE"

of going “hove to” is unusual under described by author conditions , then what is usual ?

The video on this BBC page was reportedly taken by a passenger. Looks a bit snotty.


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Saga specializes in cruising and vacations for over 50yr olds. The joke was SAGA stood for Send A Granny Away. When I worked for them back in the early 2000’s onboard the Saga Rose, we had many cruises where average age of pax was in the 70’s. Not the most nimble age group for rough seas and easily banged up too. Had a great time with that ship and some of those pax were amazing people.

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Turning a ship around, from a following sea to head to wind and sea, in big waves takes an enormous amount of skill and a bigger amount of luck.
It is something that is only ever taught by somebody who has done it before.
Obviously the geek that programmed the ‘Automatic Safety System’ was having an off day.


Two Days Prior the forecast for that area called for a second storm with winds to 65 kts and significant wave heights to 14 meters (46 feet) for Saturday Nov 4th.

SEE A Second Hurricane-Force Storm heads for English Channel Approaches - Ocean Weather ServicesOcean Weather Services


NOAA Sea Height Analysis at 1200 UTC 04 November

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Some part of the propulsion / steering system tripped out as outside set parameters, high-temp or some such. Was communicated to the passengers as the safety system working as designed.

Be my guess.


By trying to cram as many cabins as possible onto a cruise ship appears to make them very top heavy. I keep waiting for one of them to become another “Poseidon”.

Looks can be deceiving. Cabins are mostly all open space, all the big heavy stuff is down below.

Big, empty spaces full of fat tourists.

Sitting at home is the best place to look at those weather maps.


All those cabins in the superstructure make a very large sail during intense winds.

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Quite simply there is something wrong with the company SMS system.

WTF would anyone in their right mind take a passenger ship full of geriatric passengers across the Biscay with the forecast in place at the time.

Some Gung Ho tool might. Think it is ok.
Old Tanker back in the day. Sure full ahead and damn the torpedos. Plowed through all sorts.
Bent a few thing on deck but what the hell most of it just went over us.

The old Queen’s and other Ocean liners were built for the WNA. The New Queen’s are supposed to be as well,

Average cruise ships are not.

It’s not to hard you know the weather is building up to something nasty.
You have a couple of choices.
Try and beat it. Unfortunately you can get this wrong.

Or reduced speed. Delay departures wait till it blows through. 24 hr later it probably been and gone.

Easier said than done you might say, No it’s what I get paid for.
My boss is not going to be to happy if his ship ends up on the front page or the lead story on the BBC and CNN.

The Company SMS should have. Weather parameters.
The company SMS should also require it’s not just one person opinion.
The entire senior bridge and shipboard’s management team should be involved and able to speak up to say if it’s is or is not a cunning plan.

Of course you also have to involve all sorts of important shore side people when you might delay a vessel.
Mostly so they can start explaining why and what alternatives can be made for those waiting,

If you have written company heavy weather parameters. It makes the discussion easier you don’t have to explain to the people who don’t know what your talking about why you think it’s not a good idea.

You are able to say we expect the weather on whatever day on route to exceed company guidelines. And then get on with contingency plan.

This ship’s management team got this completely wrong.

sometimes. An XO has to impress upon a Master his or her plan is not a good one.

A Good Master Appreciates good advice.

If the decision is to proceed.
Then each department head should be aware of what is expected. And particularly be responsible for ensuring their particular area is prepared and ready for heavy weather.
And reports back prior to encountering heavy weather.

As to what safety systems worked as planned.
Must have been invented after I retired cause I sure a heck can’t think of anything.

As to my former employer’s. Did this every go wrong? Yes.
The Master who did not listen to his XO. Retired suddenly and unexpected and his Boss was moved and our company SMS system got a rewrite.

Bottom line it’s much cheaper and easier to deal with people who are annoyed about being late than to deal with a mess like this.

The weather. The forecast is for the sustained sea and wind. You will encounter some which is worse. So even when forecast conditions are expected to not exceed certain parameters.
A significant percentage will.
Even when I stick within our parameters. Some people will be quite concerned.

There is no point in frightening people.


Regarding chart : NOAA Sea Height Analysis at 1200 UTC 04 November as above.

There is an interesting fragment in P&I “Gard guidance on containers”, regarding wave heights and forecasting . Application of the content accompanied by a chart like above should quite effectively discourage office blokes from applying commercial pressures.
Significant wave height
Marine weather forecasts usually provide information on wind velocity (speed and direction) and wave height. The usual
term to define wave height is ‘significant wave height’, abbreviated as HS. This is the average of the highest one-third (33 per cent) of waves, measured from trough to crest, that occur during a given period.
Significant wave height is therefore an average of the largest waves and this does mean that individual waves may be
higher. Significant wave height is actually a statistical term and indicative of a certain range of wave heights. This is best
explained on the basis of a graph showing the wave numbers on the vertical axis and wave height on the horizontal axis.
As can be seen in the above graph, there are a relatively high number of small waves (left side of graph) and a low number of
very large waves (right side of graph). This implies that you will not encounter a significant wave very frequently. However,
statistically, it is possible to encounter a wave that is much higher than the significant wave.
For example, given that HS is 10 m, statistically this implies that:

The Canadian National Marine Weather Guide provides information on the likelihood of meeting a particular wave
height within a given time frame:

The energy generated by a wave is proportional to the square of its height.
For example, a 30 m high wave will hit the vessel with a force equivalent to four times that of a 15 m wave.
end quote.
Needless to say one needs a written confirmation from the office bloke , that he was so advised, otherwise the M.F. will deny everything.



This CNN report has a screen shot from Twitter that mentions the ship not being able to get a pilot at one point.

Link was at Old Salt Blog’s post:

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