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Carnival Splendor still out of commission

December 6, 2010

The Carnival Splendor remains in port in San Diego, CA following the engine room fire that left more than 3000 passengers and 1200 cruise ship employees stranded off the coast of Mexico. The onboard cruise ship fire has puzzled cruise ship experts as to how and why the fire occurred.

Since its return to port, the Splendor has been examined by everyone from the ship’s builder to the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Panama Maritime Authority investigators, and Carnival’s engineers and technicians. The NTSB previously investigated a 2003 boiler fire onboard Norwegian Cruise Lines S/S Norway during which eight ship crew members were killed and 17 others injured.

Cruise ship safety has come under increased scrutiny over the last few years due to the large number of accidents, injuries, sexual assaults, and missing person reports occurring onboard cruise ships. On board fires are now getting a closer look due to all the exposure the Carnival Splendor fire received.

In a recent safety bulletin issued by the United Kingdom’s Maritime Accident Investigation Branch says a September 23, 2010 explosion on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2’s which occurred near the main electric switchboard rooms resulted from the failure of a capacitor. Leaking oil sprayed onto high voltage bars, causing a “major arc flash event,” the agency says.
While nobody was injured, the blast was large enough to blow the steel door to the area with the capacitor out of its frame and resulted in extensive damage to surrounding electrical panels, according to the report. The blast also caused serious damage to an adjoining steel door into the main switchboard room, the stiffeners on the bulkhead of the compartment were buckled, and the steel cover plate on a cross-flooding duct was blown out into the main switchboard room,” the report says.
Due to the size of today’s modern cruise ships, and the distance they travel from port, an onboard cruise ship fire could have devastating consequences. Cruise ship companies need to ensure that their passengers can take long cruises without fear of a catastrophic accident occurring.

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