Friday, April 18, 2014

South Korean Ferry Story

On April 15th, 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic. Despite the fact that there weren't enough lifeboats, safety procedures were antiquated and this happened at night, in a remote location, in the iciest waters imaginable; over 700 survivors were recovered from the scene.

Flash forward exactly 102 years later. A modern ferry boat somehow capsizes off the busy coast of South Korea (what, did it hit an iceberg?). Now, if I were captain, I would have done two things immediately the minute I saw we were in distress: (a) call for help, (b) order everyone on board to follow the well-established safety procedures that undoubtedly exist for that vessel, which almost certainly include getting to a place where they can board a lifeboat and put on a life jacket. You know, those bright orange thingamabobs that float? They're designed to keep your head above water, even if you're dead or unconscious, so if you're wearing one it makes kind of hard for rescuers to miss you. I don't know where that Korean ferry was going, but I've been on a few ferries in my life ... crossing the English Channel, visiting the Orkney Islands in Scotland, and more recently crossing the San Francisco Bay. I don't recall anyone having their own private cabin! I mean, that's not a ferry ride, that's a cruise ...

I don't know what's going on with that ferry but the initial photos I saw at home showed photographs of some ship that had clearly run aground and tipped over, if she were ever real at all (she looked more CGI than the Titanic in the 90's film with Leonardo DiCaprio). The newspeople were asking questions like, "How long can a person survive in these cold waters?" "--Only two hours so everone who fell in the water must be dead."

Again, this didn't happen in the remote North Atlantic over a hundred years ago. Honestly, how long do you think it would take for someone to rescue your ass if you ran aground off the coast of South Korea in the light of day? Two hours? Really???

No comments: