United States Army Sergeant Ronald Kemp, 31, was reported missing from the Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Fascination around 0200 hours on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. At least one witness reportedly saw Kemp going overboard from the 10th deck of the cruise ship, a distance of over eighty feet.
At the time Kemp went overboard, Carnival Fascination was about 25 miles off New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) launched a search for the missing cruise ship passenger. The USCG says the search involved, “210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Resolute homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.; the 154-foot Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber, a Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutter homeported in Miami; the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Shrike homeported in Port Canaveral, Fla.; and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, Fla.”
The USCG said that they searched for 87 and a half hours spanning an area of more than 2,375 miles without locating Kemp. The search was called off on August 29.
Kemp was stationed with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart. Fort Stewart is located near Hinesville, Georgia, west of Savannah, Georgia.
Carnival Fascination had embarked from Jacksonville, Florida around 1700 hours on Monday, August 27 and was sailing to Key West, Florida before sailing onto the Bahamas when Kemp went overboard, nine hours into the cruise. The ship missing the call at Key West, sailing onto the Bahamas in order to make up time lost due to participating in the search for Kemp.
Kemp was a two-tour combat veteran artilleryman who had twice been deployed to Iraq and was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan after his vacation.
Both the USCG and the U.S. Army are investigating the incident.
A spokeswoman for Carnival Corp has stated that crew members threw life rings overboard immediately after Kemp went overboard and the ship turned around to search for him.
There are numerous reported rumors on this case that lead to speculation and conjecture. However, we will not participate in the speculation out of respect for the family, though we will update this case when details have been confirmed.
If Kemp is not found, the case will be moved to the Cruise Ship Deaths website, after a suitable amount of time.