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Coast Guard rescues two severely burned crewmen off cruise liner

The Coast Guard rescued two crew members severely burned in a Monday afternoon during an engine room accident onboard the Norwegian Escape while the cruise liner sailed off the coast of North Carolina.

“What we know is that there appeared to be an accident in the engine room,” said Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Ronald Hodges, a Coast Guard spokesman.

Because the vessel was more than 12 nautical miles offshore of the United States and the two victims were from the Philippines serving onboard a Bahamas-flagged vessel, the Coast Guard is unlikely to probe the incident, Hodges added.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard said that the injuries appeared to have been caused by a steam pipe that burst.

Coast Guard watchstanders at the Fifth District command center in Portsmouth, Virginia, were contacted Monday at 3:50 p.m. by the Norwegian Escape that the two crewmen, 25 and 26 years of age, needed emergency medical attention for second-degree burns, officials say.

The Coast Guard scrambled a Jayhawk MH-60T rescue helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to fly 24 miles east to the cruise ship.

Hovering over the vessel, the crew hoisted up the two victims, accompanied by a ship doctor, and transported them to the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport in Nash County, North Carolina. There, they were handed off to paramedics who rushed them to a local hospital with burns over about 50 percent of their bodies, according to the Coast Guard.

“Our crews train for a wide range of situations, so when we are contacted we are prepared to get people the help they need in a timely fashion," said Thomas A. Botzenhart, Fifth District search and rescue coordinator, in a statement emailed to Navy Times.

Norwegian Cruise Line officials did not respond to email and telephone messages from Navy Times on Tuesday but issued a written statement Wednesday evening.

“The ship’s medical team immediately provided care and notified the U.S. Coast Guard. After evaluation, they were taken to a hospital in North Carolina for further care,” the emailed message said. “Our thoughts are with our crew members and we wish them a speedy recovery. The ship will continue its scheduled itinerary.”

Launched in Germany in 2015, the Breakaway Plus-class cruise ship was sailing to Port Canaveral, Florida, when the accident occurred but the incident did not affect the vessel’s voyage, Hodges said.

“Our reports are that the cruise ship was not disabled in any way,” he added.

The vessel is powered by five MAN V48/60CR-type engines that can put out 76,800 kilowatts of energy.

Online marine tracking sites showed the Norwegian Escape making nearly 8 knots and moving northwestward across Florida’s Canaveral Blight on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Norwegian Escape’s website, the 164,600-ton cruise ship routinely sails to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Canada, New England and Bermuda.

Crewed by 1,733 employees, it can host up to 4,266 passengers.

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