MSC Cruises promised to install Man Overboard systems in 2017. Six years later, a crewmember was lost at sea.

James Walker, a Miami-based maritime lawyer who also runs the website Cruise Law News, recently set up a Go Fund Me to help the family of 30-year-old MSC Cruises crew member Vishnu Vardhan Cheelam, who went overboard on the MSC Seascape in mid-November as the ship was sailing from Miami on a Caribbean cruise. Walker is taking on the case pro bono and is donating 100% of the funds to Cheelam's family.

In the Go Fund Me, Walker provides some context:

Vishnu had spoken to his family shortly before he disappeared at sea. He was in good spirits and was looking forward to returning to India where his family was building a new home. He was close to his his mother, Laxmi, and sisters, Divya and Rani. He was the "man of the family," having lost his father when he was a small child, and financially supported his mother.

After learning that their son and brother was lost overboard over two weeks ago, Vishu's mother and sisters have not received any information from MSC Cruises.

The cruise line refuses to provide the family with a copy of his employment contract and collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or return his personal effects from his cabin. MSC has not paid his outstanding wages and $1,500 in cash was taken from Vishnu's cabin. MSC also refuses to provide the family with a copy of CCTV images of Vishnu or provide statements from eye witnesses explaining why this long-term ship employee went overboard.

Vishnu's family is emotionally devasted by Vishnu's disappearance not to mention the shoddy way that MSC has responded to this tragedy. The construction of the family home has stopped while the family faces an uncertain future. They have been provided with no answers to what happened to their beloved family member, no wages or work benefits and not even the dignity of receiving Vishnu's modest personal effects from his cabin on the cruise ship.

According to Walker, the US Coast Guard sent two rescue vessels as well as a helicopter to search for Cheelam, but he could not be found.

In a recent article on the Cruise Law News website, Walker explains that only one of the cruise ships in MSC's fleet—the Meraviglia—has an automatic man over board (MOB) system. The ship that Cheelam worked had no such lifesaving equipment, despite the Swiss company's promise back in 2017 that it would be installing MOB systems in all of its ships. Walker explains:

There is no indication that the MSC Seascape has a state-of-the-art man overboard (MOB) system which would automatically detect, via motion detection, radar and infra-red technology, when someone goes over the rails and can track the person in the water even at night. Without such a system, it is exceedingly difficult to search for a person in the water, especially at night. . . 

Back in 2017, MSC Cruises indicated that it developed an "intelligent video capturing and analysis system" in collaboration with "security technology experts, Bosch and Hewlett Packard Enterprise." The Swiss-based cruise line announced that it has tested the new man overboard system on the company's newest ship which debuted in June (2017).  MSC reported that "through over 25,000 hours of video analysis, extensive software testing and continuous algorithmic updates, the system has now reached a confirmed accuracy level of 97%."

However, MSC Cruises only installed the lifesaving equipment on one of its ships:

In July 2019, a cruise guest in her 40's went overboard from the MSC Meraviglia but was promptly rescued after the auto MOB alerted the crew that she went overboard. Unfortunately, over six years later MSC has still not installed this successful automatic MOB system on any of its twenty-one other cruise ships, including the MSC Seascape from which this latest crew member disappeared.

Here's the link if you want to donate to the Go Fund Me.