A cruise to be remembered. Not!

An article posted on Fox News tonight about the end to a great journey gone bad.

Every time a cruise ship loses power or has a fire, I can’t help but wonder how is it that ship builders don’t have sufficient redundancy built in to cover an engineering casualty? Where are the backup generators? How is it that a fire in an engine room always ends up being so catastrophic? Are the fire fighting systems so inadequate as to be unable to suppress a fire in short order? Why is ship’s company so ill prepared to deal with such a situation? Why did it take four days to get the ship under tow? Why were auxiliary generators not aboard, or brought aboard by Coast Guard or the dispatched tow vessels?

The US Navy has had some pretty rough fires aboard ship, mostly aboard Aircraft Carriers. The two most notable fires were aboard the USS ORISKANY and the USS ENTERPRISE, both of which resulted in a lot of damage and lives lost. The USS STARK and USS COLE are two more examples, both having their start from an attack that generated out of control fires. Fires that were expertly brought under control by training, grit, and determination. In none of these situations did the ship completely lose power, nor were the ships so adversely affected as to not have some level of ship’s services available to the crew. Why? Redundancy and training. Navy crews are noted for running drills to handle any kind of emergency, often without notice at odd hours of day or night. The training pays off premiums in the form of continued operations and reduced loss of life.

It seems to me that maritime law and standards should be revised to require more and better training, along with improved redundancy in ship’s systems. The Carnival Triumph situation was, in my opinion, a disaster waiting to happen. A needless disaster of the sort we keep seeing at sea, and an especially dangerous one because there are passengers aboard who have no training or experience with emergencies. Improvements need to be made, sooner rather than later, and, for what it’s worth, no amount of refund or discount on future cruises will make this better.