Carnival security officers reported witnessing the passenger jumping off the upper deck of the ship around 2 a.m. approximately 25 miles off the coast of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The security guard reports seeing the passenger jump with one life ring. At that point crew tossed four additional life rings into the water to the passenger.
The incident was reported to the Coast Guard at 2:09 a.m. Tuesday at which time several aircraft and vessels were dedicated to the search efforts. The search continues in a 180 square mile area, which will grow outward as the search continues. Searching is conducted using a grid system both by air and water. All ships in the area are also on notice to watch for the passenger.
Standard protocol in the event of a passenger, or crew member, going over the side of a cruise ship is to stop the ship and launch a rescue craft to begin searching. The next step includes notifying the Coast Guard or other authorities based on where the ship is located. The ship begins its own search and hands over control of the search to the Coast Guard when in US waters.
This ship and itinerary were not affected by Hurricane Isaac and sailed on time. After spending several hours assisting in the search for the missing passenger, the Carnival Fascination was released by the Coast Guard to continue on sailing an altered itinerary. They headed then for the Bahamas instead of Key West, which was then cancelled as a port of call.
Carnival identified the missing passenger as Sgt. Kemp a member of the United States Army, stationed at Fort Steward, GA. Stg. Kemp is age 31. Further details about Sgt. Kemp are not available at this time. No information is available about who may have been traveling with him.