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PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY, ALERT 10(a) -10

NZ ferry Superflyte - see Supplement Note below.


Continuing our Postings on passenger ship safety NAUTICAL LOG will address the two Marine Safety Alerts from USCG. We shall quote sections of them and then comment from our perspective as a former cruise line Safety Officer.

Alert 10(a) - 10 "Wrong directions: A recipe for failure" states that it is based on concerns uncovered during an abroad investigation in a passenger vessel after a machinery space fire. It is clear that the vessel involved is the MS Carnival Splendor though that vessel is never named in the Report. Frankly we are not sure why because there are considerable conversations and writings about that major event in the maritime industry. Perhaps the reason is that the Investigation is ongoing and the USCG has Port State control rather than Flag State control which is the responsibility of the Republic of Panama.

The first responders to the engineroom fire alarm were the vessels quick response team which fought the fire using portable equipment. The Master then decided to release the CO2 from the vessels fixed firefighting system. It failed!!

The USCG investigation which is ongoing found the following issues that may have contributed to the CO2 system failure. Here NAUTICAL LOG quotes from Alert 10(a) - 10:

Shipyard commissioning test procedures appear to differ from procedures documented in the vessel's Firefighting Instruction Manual (FIM). Commissioning procedures indicate that the discharge line selection to a specific protected zone should be made prior to releasing the gas contrary to the directions in the FIM.

The FIM refers extensively to a Control Panel that differs vastly from the one onboard the vessel.

The FIM states that the CO2 Release station is on the Starboard side of the vessel when in fact it is located on the Port side.

The FIM incorrectly uses the word "PULL" when it should read "TURN" in reference to the operation of the valves.

The FIM contains the following confusing language "Once the fire has been extinguished make sure the temperature has decreased before investigate the area same time is needed to wait hours".

The FIM references elements of an Emergency Shut Down (E.S.D) graphic on numerous occasions. However the graphic display was not found on the vessel.

The FIM contains photographs of the internals of the CO2 release stations that appear to differ from the actual CO2 release stations onboard the vessel.

The CO2 release stations installed on the vessel have instructional placards that refer to elements of a completely different control panel then the one used onboard the vessel.

Shipyard piping schematics and drawings do not appear to match the actual installation. The schematic shows the "A" valve for Aft Machinery Space in the centre position vice the bottom position as it is installed on the vessel.

Now it is excellent and highly necessary that USCG published these Marine Safety Alerts promptly. HOWEVER this is a 'butt covering' publication by USCG.

The MS Carnival Splendor was built at Fincantieri, Genoa, Italy, Yard # 6135, IMO # 9333163. She came into service July 02, 2008 so in the two years of operation she was inspected by the USCG Marine Safety Office every three months (quarterly inspections) for Port State Control and her US Passenger Safety Certificate. Also during those two years there was a designated Safety Officer whose duty it was to study, become completely familiar with ALL safety equipment installed, it's Operating Manuals and train the crew. It is absolutely incomprehensible to NAUTICAL LOG as a former Safety Officer how any and all of this was unknown to both the Cruise Line and USCG for the last two years.

The basic question for the serving Safety Officers during all that time is "How did you train your fire fighting teams to operate the CO2 system if the FIM and local instructions were clearly completely wrong?" To those of you concerned, both USCG and the Cruise Line personnel, you have been careless in the execution of your designated duties to the point of criminal neglect. NAUTICAL LOG is horrified with your behaviour as professional officers serving in a passenger carrying vessel and with the Marine Safety Officers who carried out those "quarterly inspections".

It is fortunate that there was not serious loss of life in which case you all would have been responsible for those deaths. All of you involved have some very serious thinking to do about your professional life as seafarers. It is not about just advancing your rank and career it is about executing your duties to the highest standard you can set for yourselves and then carrying it out every single day.

This series will continue with Marine Safety Alert 10(b) -10 "Simple failures render CO2 system inoperative".

Good Watch.

Supplement Note: This morning December 31, 2010 we received some data in an e-mail from Canada regarding Fire Smothering System failure. We quote:

" The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is aware of at least one other incident involving the in-service failure of a fixed smothering system on a passenger vessel. On August 22, 2004 the passenger ferry Superflyte was proceeding from Matiatia, Waiheke Island to Auckland, NZ with 6 crew and 311 passengers on board when a fire was discovered in the port engineroom. CO2 flooding was used in an attempt to extinguish the fire but this was unsuccessful due to an undetected fault in the distribution system. Canadian and International Regulations do not address requirements for ensuring the continuing structural integrity of the CO2 system, nor do Canadian regulations require safeguards to prevent inadvertent leakage or discharge. Even though the system is subjected to high pressure when it is discharging, there are no requirements for it to be subjected to pressure testing on a routine basis. Unlike the rigorous pressure testing applied to other single-use lifesaving appliances (liferafts, evacuation chutes, fire extinguishers), the accepted test procedures for fixed smothering systems involve merely 'blowing through' the pipework with compressed air to ensure that they are clear. Such testing does not ensure the structural adequacy of the system, which may have latent defects not readily detectable by visual inspection".

NAUTICAL LOG sincerely thanks the senders of this information and hopes it will be helpful to serving Safety Officers in the Maritime Industry.

Good Watch.

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