Once again there is a report in this morning's The Miami Herald stating that the MS Bimini Superfast has failed a USCG-MSO Inspection and yet another issue raised by Commander Janet Espine-Young, USCG.
According to the newspaper, and we quote:
"The 32,000 ton casino boat needs more overhead sprinklers before it can carry passengers to the Bahamanian island resort, where it recently opened a casino. It is unclear when the 1,500-passenger ship will meet those fire protection standards, said U.S. Coast Guard inspector Janet Espine-Young."
Alright all seafarers would agree that the recent series of incidents in cruise ships sailing from the Gulf Of Mexico and South Florida U.S. Ports warrants serious safety inspections. However enough is enough, there are limits and this is becoming somewhat ridiculous.
In reply the president of Resorts World Bimini www.rwbimini.com Mr. Dana Leibovitz stated and again we quote:
"Resorts World considers the safety of the Bimini Superfast's passengers and crew our top priority. For this reason we are working closely with the US Coast Guard to complete all outstanding safety checks prior to launching regular twice-a-day service between Miami and Bimini."
The issue of sprinklers is the latest issue reported that has arisen after this vessel arrived several weeks ago in the Port of Miami, FL. It is a structural design issue and should have been noted from that first day of inspection. Perhaps it was and has only been told to The Miami Herald reporter now added to the transition failure of the emergency back-up power system. The fitting of additional sprinklers is a ship construction issue and is part of the certification of the vessel by its Flag State when it was built and later when its Flag State changed from Greece to Panama. One would have thought this was an issue beyond the scope of a Port State Safety Inspection and would be only a recommendation from them for the vessel's next refit.
Rules for the Classification of Steel Ships
Part C Machinery, Electricity, Automation and Fire Protection
Chapter 4 Fire fighting and prevention
Section 6 Suppression of Fire: Fire Fighting
5 Fire-extinguishing arrangements in control stations, accommodation and service spaces.
5.1 Sprinkler systems in passenger ships
5.1.1 Passenger ships carrying more than 36 passengers shall be equipped with an automatic sprinkler, fire detection and fire alarm system of an approved type complying with the requirements of Chapter 4, Section 13 in all control stations, accommodation and service spaces, including corridors and stairways. Alternatively control stations where water may cause damage to essential equipment may be fitted with an approved fixed fire-extinguishing system of another type. Spaces having little or no fire risk such as voids, public toilets, carbon dioxide rooms, and similar spaces need not be fitted with an automatic system.
While NAUTICAL LOG respects the professionalism of the Chief of Inspection this continual fault finding and resulting delays in allowing the vessel to operate on short day trips to the Bahamas seems overkill perhaps even reflecting a personal issue. One suspects that the initial contact between Genting Bimini and the USCG-MSO Chief of Inspection did not go well resulting in a poor relationship, even "bad blood" between the two groups, with the impression now of a vendetta playing out.
NAUTICAL LOG suggests that a compromise be reached, unless the issue of emergency power transition is too serious, the MS Bimini Superfast should be allowed to operate on their planned daylight trips from 0900 to 2100 only under a restricted U.S. Passenger Certificate. The Genting Bimini should reimburse the USCG-MSO for Inspectors say two (2) or three (3) to sail with the vessel observing the operation and work being done on the emergency power transition issue while the vessel is actually sailing. This way the vessel would have each overnight in the Port of Miami to work with shipyard engineers, if required, to bring the system up to the standard required by the Chief of Inspection Commander Janet Espine-Young, USCG. Perhaps even to also work on that sprinkler issue as well.
For further information and details of shipboard sprinkler systems in particular and fire-fighting in general please refer to the link in the My Blog List entitled Examination Notes for Marine Officers.