Search continues for Sunderland entertainer Arron Hough, missing from luxury Caribbean cruise liner Harmony of the Seas

Rescuers have been searching through the night for a Sunderland cruise ship entertainer who is feared to have gone overboard on Christmas Day.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 27 December, 2018, 06:47
The Tweet from Russell Smith Associates announcing Arron Hough would be joining the Harmony of the Seas

The alarm was raised over Arron Hough, 20, when he did not report for work on the Harmony of the Seas.

Rescuers were alerted to his disappearance when he failed to report for work, nearly 10 hours after he is believed to have gone missing.

The last CCTV footage available showed him heading on to the Royal Caribbean ship's deck at around 4am, according to a statement issued by the company.

However, staff on board the ship only realised he was missing when he did not report to work later that day.

The United States Coast Guard was alerted to Mr Hough's disappearance at 1.45pm, a spokesman said.

The vessel was 267 miles (430km) north-west of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, at the time and was travelling to Philipsburg, St Maarten.

The Harmony of the Seas. Picture: Anddrew Matthews/PA Wire

The United States Coast Guard said it had deployed a Clearwater HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew and the Coast Guard Cutter Resolute in the search.

Royal Caribbean and the United States Coast Guard were unable to confirm how far the ship travelled during this time.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said: "We are saddened to report that after a review of the ship's closed-circuit camera footage, he was observed entering an area on Deck 5 at around 4am and was not seen again.

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"Local authorities were notified and a ship-wide search for the crew member was conducted.

"Our care team is providing support to the family and friends of our colleague, and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."

Mr Hough's Facebook page says he is from 'City of Sunderland' and went to The Urdang Academy,an independent performing arts academy in London.

In July, London-based talent agency Russell Smith Associates tweeted that he would be joining the cast of Grease The Musical on Harmony of the Seas.

The firm has now Tweeted: "On behalf of Russell Smith Associates, we are both shocked and saddened about the news concerning our Arron Hough. Our thoughts are with all of his friends and family and we hope for him to be found very soon," while The Urdang Academy said: "We are all praying for @Arronhoughxox and his family. Please keep up your hope and faith that he is found safe and sound as soon as possible."

Well-wishers, many of them from Sunderland, have been posting their hopes that he is found safe and well.

The Royal Caribbean website says the Harmony of the Seas won the title of largest cruise ship in the world in 2016.

The ship cost one billion US dollars (£695 million), can carry 6,780 guests and 2,100 crew, and took more than two-and-a-half years to construct.

The website says it is the first ship to feature the Broadway hit musical Grease as part of its entertainment programme.

Harmony Of The Seas departed Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday for a seven-night cruise including calls at Philipsburg, St Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Labadee, Haiti.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We are providing assistance to the family of a British man who has been reported missing off Fort Lauderdale."