On 1 November, as reported at the time by Scuba Diver, a liveaboard in the southern Egyptian Red Sea, just north of Port Ghalib, caught fire in the middle of the night, tragically leaving one of the guests dead, and the rest of the passengers and crew having to jump into the sea to escape the burning vessel.
In those first few hours, details were extremely scarce, but following our initial report news broke that the liveaboard in question was the Red Sea Aggressor I, also known as the Suzanna I. Now Aggressor Adventures CEO Wayne B Brown has released this statement:
“As you know, misinformation is common in the initial days following unforeseen events. We are being very open and honest on what we know as facts become available, but unfortunately, factual information is emerging slowly, even to us. We do not speculate. So as we’re able to review all statements given, we begin to get a better picture of what has occurred.
“However, we know in the big picture that, unfortunately, there was a tragedy of a diver losing their life, and the rest had to evacuate with little to no possessions. The ground team in Egypt responded quickly in getting everyone into an all-inclusive resort to ensure their basic needs were being met and then assembled cash so they could get some clothing and sundries at the limited shops available in Port Ghalib.
“They also spent a day and a half working with tourist police gaining approval for us to relocate them to Cairo. Egypt does not allow tourists to relocate without prior approvals that usually occurs behind the scenes. We immediately secured hotels and transportation to the embassies in Cairo, even before they ever left Port Ghalib. The Cairo team then helped everyone with rearranging and paying for their return flights as well as some more shopping for clothes, luggage etc.
“Once on land, was everything executed perfectly, no. But rather accept it given the challenging circumstances, we are regrouping to assess how we can continue to improve our procedures and practices.
“As a company and divers ourselves, we have always been extremely safety-driven, and when any event happens anywhere in the dive industry, we use that to look internally for any changes we may need to make to try and prevent that occurrence with our own guests.
“After the recent Conception fire, we directed every destination to ensure that no charging was done unattended and that all lithium charging was done outside at the designated charging areas. We also had them review their emergency exit plans, fire escapes and smoke detectors for proper working order and that their firefighting gear was operational.
“Also, in regards to a passenger's comments that he did not hear a smoke detector – and some research showing smoke detectors having a history of testing okay with the test button but not activating with actual smoke – we will start requiring the testing of our smoke detectors with cans of fake smoke to ensure proper operation. That is just one of the many procedures we are looking to implement across our fleet to further strengthen our guest safety and of course, customer confidence.”