July 15, 2013
(6:45 p.m. EDT) -- Just shy of three years after the incident, the Coast Guard has released a report detailing the causes of the engine room fire and subsequent power loss on Carnival Splendor in November 2010. The report also contains recommendations for Carnival, Lloyd's Register, the Coast Guard and the International Maritime Organization for improving fire safety.
The cause of the fire, according to the report, was "a major mechanical failure in the number five diesel generator. As a result, engine components, lube oil and fuel were ejected through the engine casing and caused a fire at the deck plate level between generators five and six in the aft engine room which eventually ignited the cable runs overhead."
The report notes several errors combined to make the situation worse and lead to the eventual loss of power and propulsion. An officer on the bridge (the "bridgewatchstander") reset a fire alarm, which delayed the Hi-Fog fire protection system from activating. It took the fire teams about two hours to locate the fire in the cable runs, mainly because of lots of smoke. (Though recommendations on fire drills in the engine room suggest fire teams were not as familiar with the layout of the area as they should be.) In addition, the ship's crew was unable to activate the CO2 fire extinguishing system, despite two attempts (one remote and one manual).
The five recommendations of the Commandant of the U.S Coast Guard are as follows:
1. Remove the 40-second time delay in the Hi-Fog system's automatic activation.
2. Have Carnival make improvements to its ships and safety systems, such as improve crew familiarity with engine room layout and firefighting strategies and improve the CO2 system activation procedures.
3. Inspect the CO2 systems on all Dream-class vessels.
4. Have the Coast Guard update guidelines for evaluating fire drills.
5. Ask the IMO to do the same.
A statement from Carnival says, "We agree with the U.S. Coast Guard's conclusions surrounding fire detection and firefighting processes and took numerous actions throughout our fleet as a result, including the creation of a Fire Safety Task Force. Those efforts resulted in the implementation and enhancements of a number of processes, training and equipment, as well as the formation of a new Marine Safety department. These actions directly contributed to the rapid detection and suppression of the fire on Carnival Triumph in February of 2013. Additionally, on April 17 of this year, the company announced a $300 million fleet-wide enhancement program that is currently underway to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, further strengthen existing fire safety systems by installing the most advanced technology available, and improve the level of operating redundancies across our entire 24-ship fleet." The line also announced today that four maritime and transportation industry experts have joined its new Safety and Reliability Review Board.
Click to read the full Coast Guard report.
--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor