Tuesday, July 16, 2013


On November 08, 2010 the Carnival Group passenger ship MS Carnival Splendor caught fire off the Pacific coast of Mexico.  This caused a series of problems for the Carnival Group which showed an inherent weakness in their safety protocol.  This incident was repeated in the MS Carnival Triumph in February 2013.  Of course an investigation was launched by the United States Coast Guard Marine Safety Office due to the ship sailing from an United States port on a cruise with mostly United States citizens as passengers.  A Report of some fifty-one (51) pages by USCG-MSO of this incident has now been published.  Various summaries of the Report  are available online and the full Report is published on the USCG HOMEPORT website.  NAUTICAL LOG has extracted from the Report the key points to use in this Post.

Currently the MS Bimini Superfast is trying to obtain a U.S. Passenger Certificate to operate between the Port of Miami, FL and Bimini, Bahamas for this vessel a three hour trip.  For those of you who have been following in NAUTICAL LOG the saga of her trials and tribulations to obtain that Certificate perhaps the Report on the MS Carnival Splendor incident is a major factor explaining the depth and precision of the Safety Inspection ** by the USCG-MSO 7th. District Chief of Inspection.

When the MS Carnival Splendor caught fire in her engine room the fire burned for seven (7) hours  and the resulting damage to the electrical supply cabling cut off power to the 3,000 passenger vessel.  In review it appears likely that the "Hi-Fog"® system in the engine room could have put out the fire had it been activated correctly.  The system had a 40 second delay built into it and this in turn resulted in a watchstander of the Watch Bridge Team resetting the alarm on the Bridge Control Panel when it sounded (noise and light).  In turn, through the smoke detector linkage, this made it impossible to trigger the misting system automatically.  The mist system was finally activated after 15 minutes by which time the fire had spread and caused serious damage.

As always the Report details whom did what and what they did incorrectly in following the fire-fighting protocol and indeed what was incorrect or could be improved in that protocol itself.

This is what NAUTICAL LOG has picked out as key points to incorporate in crew training and written protocols:

  • Remove that 40 second delay.
  • Do not reset the alarm until it is confirmed why the system activated.
  • Train for accurate following of the fire-fighting protocol.
  • Make sure that the fire-fighting protocol is truly effective.
  • Make sure machinery maintenance is up-to-date and parts are in good condition.
  • Check all air coolers and systems for all diesel generators.
  • Train and check that all crew in the engine room know the layout and its fire-fighting protocol.
  • Exercise effective fire-fighting drills.

Additionally the Report has recommended:
  • Lloyds Register should inspect carbon dioxide systems in all passenger vessels.
  • The USCG should enhance guidelines for evaluation of fire drills **
  • The USCG should recommend better guidance for fire drills to the IMO.**

Some NAUTICAL LOG thoughts.  Reading the above one can recall these same points being made time and time again over the years at sea.  Indeed they were worded in accordance with the equipment of the time but the same thing and the same problems. 

Safety is really quite simple to achieve, but well thought out protocols and beautifully written illustrated manuals while useful in training classes will not help achieve it unless:

  • The crew is well lead
  • The leadership is knowledgeable in their duties
  • The equipment is well maintained and parts in good condition
  • The crew is well trained both in formal classes and by their leaders
  • The drills are conducted regularly, at least weekly, and are effective
  • New crew members are trained then drilled the first day at sea before becoming watchstanders
  • The watchstanding is of a high standard
  • Crews develop confidence in their abilities and are listened too when they have ideas
  • Good work is recognized
  • The crew are rotated in departmental duties and get proper rest off watch 
  • A Company truly respects their crews

The professional pride, personal pride, pride in the ship and pride in doing the job to the best level possible will be reflected in a much higher standard of safety for the vessel.

Good Watch

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