In the sixty-eight years between the Titanic’s iceberg collision and the Prinsendam’s engine-room fire, the cruise ship industry saw communication and navigational technology advances that could have saved the Titanic. Unlike her doomed predecessor, the Prinsendam had a public address system, telephones, radiotelephony, radiotelegraphy, and a VHF radio direction finder, radar, echo sounding, an automatic pilot, a gyro compass, and plenty of walkie-talkies for the ship’s crew and officers. Her course could be tracked by the Coast Guard’s satellite rescue system AMVER, was within range of Coast Guard cutters and just barely within range of its helicopters.
But the passenger-and-crew-filled lifeboats were now in the cold water of the Gulf of Alaska, and the Prinsendam continued to burn. The question was, Would there be enough time? Told in the hour-by-hour style of Walter Lord’s classic Titanic narrative, A Night to Remember, author Jeffers recreates the drama of one of the most dramatic and difficult sea-rescue operations ever conducted.