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PAY NOW OR PAY LATER

Carnival Group HQ Office, Doral, FL.
 
It seems that the cruise industry is the source of quite a few Posts lately on a variety of maritime and travel Blogs.  The so called "largest cruise line in the world" as it calls itself is actually an amalgamation of cruise lines acquired by Carnival Group by various business tactics.  While each of its 'brands' as they now call passenger ship companies, as in the retail trade, are operated separately under the umbrella of the Carnival Group.  The Carnival Group is headquartered in Doral a suburb of Miami, FL.  Of their various 'brands' the Carnival Cruise Line is the most notorious and has been from the outset.  Exaggerated vessel design with multi-coloured flashing lights, loud music, heavy drinking and other not so legal stimulants in full use on board - the Party Ships as advertised.  During the years there have been complaints lodged by other vessels with the USCG Marine Safety Office about these lights interfering with the visibility of the Carnival vessels navigation lights at night.  The result of those complaints was absolutely nothing was ever done for some reason.  Whatever relationship Carnival built up with the USCG other ships in which NAUTICAL LOG sailed as a Safety Officer would be quickly advised of the least infraction and rightly so.  Not Carnival vessels which departed the Port of Miami blasting loud music and with those multi-coloured lights flashing.  One must suppose that the fact of a transfer from sunny South Florida to Alaska tempered any well meaning attempts by the many decent USCG Officers stationed here over the years to discipline Carnival vessels in any meaningful way.  Career paths came first and beat out marine safety.

Over the years that increased the behaviour of this Company and its vessels to the point that they could behave in any way they wished.  In turn this resulted in building cheap vessels such as those of its fleet most recently in trouble.  How can a vessel costing $ millions be cheap?  Actually all too easily.  In the case of Carnival, as they themselves admitted yesterday, they "saved" on the power and safety systems by installing the barest minimum to meet IMO Requirements

Every deep-water navigation ship must have a backup power system in the form of an emergency generator separated from the main power plant so that if the main power fails the emergency generator can be brought on line.  Often this is an automatic system which requires a final manual confirmation - there are several ways to set this up all of which have been revised and changed over the years as new equipment comes on line.  In large passenger ships it may be that more than one emergency generator would need to be fitted to cover the designed systems.  In the case of Carnival Cruise they choose to go with all minimums in emergency systems to save money.  So only one emergency generator was fitted and this so small in capacity that it could not handle the power requirements.  This resulted in the complete breakdown of sanitary, air-conditioning and food-preparation systems in several of their vessels in recent months alone.  All concerned the Cruise Line, USCG, NTSB, Biscayne Bay Pilots and the South Florida maritime community have known about this for years, there is common talk about a shoddy operation.

Recently this has finally started to backfire on Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) with the U.S. Senator Rockefeller (D) from West Virginia demanding full reimbursement, initially ignored by the Carnival Group, of the enormous costs to U.S. taxpayers, of which NAUTICAL LOG is one, for the rescue of these vessels by both the USCG and USN.  Finally the Carnival Group recognised that it was in their best interest to write a check for the $4+ million costs they had incurred through their own cheap ship policy of construction and operation.

And so to yesterday and yet another Presser, as the modern term appears to be.  Carnival stated that upgrades to its fleet will address emergency power, fire safety and operational redundancies.  All these are the root causes of the recent accidents in the Carnival vessels and will cost at least $700 million. Covering incidents in recent months only the relatively new Carnival Cruise Line President said,

"We have had two cruises that have not been good experiences for our guests; that's two too many"

Only two?  From the very beginning Carnival has been accident prone the very first ship they bought ran aground in the Port of Miami entrance channel.  This trend then continued through its years of operation and Group development.  It was further stated that repair costs for the MS Carnival Triumph would total $100 million.  Both the MS Carnival Triumph and MS Carnival Splendor investigations after their incidents showed up lack of equipment redundancies in the engine room and problems which involved cabling connecting two separate engine rooms being damaged and resulting in no main power being available in the ship with the emergency generator being capacity inadequate for reqired emergency power needs.

So far all this is just talk and it will be interesting as time passes to see just what is actually done in these vessels and the monitoring and actual response by the USCG and other Federal Authorities involved. The costs and dreadful Public Relations for CCL could all have been avoided by effective design and construction because one has to Pay Now or Pay Later.

Good Watch.

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