Burning Cold: The Cruise Ship Prinsendam and the Greatest Sea Rescue of All Time

Overview

During the evening of October 4, 1980, in the Pacific Ocean nearly 330 miles from Valdez, Alaska, a fire engulfed the engine room of the Prinsendam, a Holland America cruise ship carrying 320 passengers, most of them elderly. As the fire raged out of control, the ship’s captain faced the most dire decision of his career: Could he give the order to abandon ship in the face of a typhoon bearing down on the Prinsendam’s position? The story of this disaster at sea, and of the near-miraculous rescue that ensued, is ...

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Overview

During the evening of October 4, 1980, in the Pacific Ocean nearly 330 miles from Valdez, Alaska, a fire engulfed the engine room of the Prinsendam, a Holland America cruise ship carrying 320 passengers, most of them elderly. As the fire raged out of control, the ship’s captain faced the most dire decision of his career: Could he give the order to abandon ship in the face of a typhoon bearing down on the Prinsendam’s position? The story of this disaster at sea, and of the near-miraculous rescue that ensued, is recounted in heart-stopping detail in this powerful book. Drawing on extensive interviews with passengers, crew, and coast guardsmen, combined with exhaustive research, Saving the Prinsendam brings to life the last moments of the doomed cruise ship and the heroic efforts of the Coast Guardsmen who managed to transport every passenger to safety before the Prinsendam rolled and slid bow-first to the bottom on October 11. Told in the hour-by-hour style of Walter Lord's Titanic classic: A Night to Remember, the book recreates the drama of one of the most memorable—and successful—rescue operations ever to be conducted at sea.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In October 1980, the Holland America cruise ship Prinsendam rolled over on her starboard side and sank in 1,473 fathoms of icy water in the Gulf of Alaska. Amazingly, none of the 320 passengers or 190 crew went down with her, recounts Jeffers (The 1,000 Greatest Heroes) in this workmanlike account of disaster and rescue on the high seas. After a fire broke out in the vessel's engine room and spread unchecked, everyone aboard was forced to abandon ship in a rising gale. Through the heroic efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard, whom Jeffers affectionately calls "Coasties," the evacuation resulted in no lives lost. While the story is laden with built-in drama, the prose is deadened with banal clich s: "Still unwilling to meet her maker just yet, Jeanie Gilmore was increasingly concerned about so much thick, black, acrid smoke." Jeffers has done a tremendous amount of research and the tale is packed with detail, but in his mundane recounting, the story fails to take off. 32 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760320792
  • Publisher: MBI Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2007

    Needing Correction

    Mr Jeffers did not do his homework for this book! He refers to Commander Richard Schoel as both Admiral and Commander, sometimes on adjoining pages. Commander Schoel was in charge of the Rescue Coordination Center at the time, he was not the District Commander. Rear Admiral Richard Knapp was the District Commander during the Prinsendam sinking and the man ultimately responsible, however he is not even mentioned in the book. The author also refers to ' Aldis Lamps' on the helicopters. Aldis lamps were used for signaling and had a narrow beam of light-the Aldis was not used to light up a large area. I found these inconsistancies very distracting and I wondered where else the author had failed to do proper research.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2006

    Fascinating Reading!

    You don't have to have a particular interest in cruise ships or the sea to enjoy 'Burning Cold.' I found the telling of the fire and consequent rescue of more than 500 mostly elderly persons from the cruise ship Prinsendam hard to put down. Mr. Jeffers research is certainly outstanding, but he has a special way with words that brings the tale to life. It isn't hard to imagine an 85 year old lady, clad only in curtains and bedroom slippers, cold and exhausted in a pitching lifeboat. Or a gentleman in a velvet tuxedo warding off the waves. The remembrances of various passengers give the book a fascination that makes it hard to put down. And anyone who questions the talents of the Coast Guard has only to read this book to find his opinions reversed. If you enjoy the technicalities of sailing vessels, there's a lot for you as well. Yet it's presented in a way that's of interest to dedicated landlubbers. This one's a winner. What a great movie it would make!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2006

    Burning Cold: The Cruise Ship Prinsendam and the Greatest Sea Rescue of All Time

    I was there, as were several of my fellow Sitka Fire Department EMT's and State Troopers from the Sitka Academy. The 6 of us, along with two parajumpers from the Canadian Armed Services were flown through the typhoon winds, on a helicopter, out to the Williamsburgh where we spent the next 33 hours attending to the rescued passengers - literally giving them the clothes off our backs and keeping them calmed. We knew there was a doctor onboard, from Anchorage, but we literally never met or saw him - I'm sure he did good work in the little clinic he had set up - but that is where he stayed. The real story was out in the rest of the ship that weekend. But I was disappointed to see that Mr. Jeffers failed to fully research this book - the role the Sitka rescue teams played (both on the Williamsburgh and trying to assess/fight the fire on the Prinsendam) was totally overlooked - despite the fact that there is a lot of documentation available that tells our story - which was the human side & had some quite amusing moments in the face of this event. I was so looking forward to this book and then to find out he left a large part of the story out, was very sad. At least we all have our commendations from both the Coast Guard commendant and the Canadian armed services - they knew we were there! Too bad Mr. Jeffers didn't due diligence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2006

    Its about time!!!

    I also was there. I am a former Coastie that was aboard the Boutwell... Mr. Jeffers is a great thorough storyteller and I am familiar with his books. It will be great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2005

    Burning Cold: The Cruise Ship Prinsendam and the Greatest Sea Rescue of All Time

    I can't wait for this book to be published - it's about time someone told the story. I was one of the Sitka Fire Department EMT's who spent 33+ hours onboard the Prinsendam during the rescue.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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