Having worked at sea in the 1990’s as a Bar Stewardess I was saddened to see a recent news story regarding a young man called Arron Hough, a dancer, who was in the stage production of Grease on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.
It has been reported that this young man, in the prime of his life at just 20 years old, had gone “missing” presumed overboard in the early hours of Christmas Day.
Arron was last seen on CCTV around 4 am on Christmas Day on deck 5 and the alarm was raised when he did not turn up for work.
The US Coast Guard was alerted, and crew searched for 83 hours by plane and boat covering over 3707 square miles before having to call off the search.
Suspending the search at 2.30 pm on 28th December, Commander Christopher Douglas, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector San Juan, expressed his sympathy for the Brit’s loved ones.
He said: “We’ve been in contact with members of Mr Hough’s family throughout our search efforts and know this is a very difficult and painful time for them.
“Suspending a search is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make as first responders, and it is never made lightly.”
Time and time again I have said that it is impossible to fall over board accidentally and reading between the lines on social media posts it appears that Arron may have been struggling with life at sea.
In the week before he disappeared, he posted several dark and cryptic messages online.
In a Twitter post, the dancer complained about the ‘fake lives’ people live on social media
The post added: “…pretending to all of our followers that we’re having such an amazing crazy ride when actually we’re not.
“We struggle, we have hard times, but we hide this with happy pictures we post …
“…which is fine to keep sadness but sometimes you gotta embrace the facts that you’re feeling down and you’re feeling alone.
“But don’t think this is a bad thing, to embrace the positives you also have to acknowledge the negatives.”
In a tweet on December 21, he posted a cryptic message which read: “Beneath the water is beauty. Always look beneath the surface before you decide on things.”
Whilst working on a ship can often look glamorous it can be a lonely place even when you are surrounded by so many people especially when you are so far from home.
To me it seems that Arron was struggling with this and probably kept it from those closest to him. Often the most outgoing of people struggle with inner demons.
What does sadden me is that if the ship had an automatic man overboard system then the Captain and officers would have known instantly he had gone overboard, and his chances of survival would have been so much higher, but as the initial alarm was not raised till 1.45 pm (almost 10 hours later) then it would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack.
The cost to implement this system is in the region of $300,000 and an annual maintenance of $40,000 but how do you even begin to cost how much a life is worth.
Surely, it’s time that ALL cruise lines must have this detection system on a mandatory basis.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for Arron but other lives could be saved!
What if it was your son or daughter?
POST EDIT: A message to Arron’s parents, friends and family – I am so sorry for your loss and hope that you somehow find the strength to take each day as it comes. Much love from an ex-cruise ship worker xx