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Carnival Corp. Finally Works on Improving Safety Regulations Fleet Wide

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After struggling with a string of cruise ship accidents and its back against the wall, Carnival Corp has announced that it has launched a comprehensive review of its entire fleet. The Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire last month was only one of the several incidents that the “Fun Ship” operator has been scrutinized over. Several other incidents, including another mechanical error onboard the Carnival Dream just two days ago, have led the liner to reevaluate cruise ship safety features and protocols in order to prevent another accident from taking place on the high seas.

“We’ve started a comprehensive review of our entire fleet,” announced Carnival Cruise Lines President and Chief Executive Gerry Cahill at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference. “It will take us a little bit of time to complete it but you can rest assured that it is our highest priority in the entire organization, it is the thing we are most focused on and we will come up with some solutions that we can implement across our fleet.”

So far, Carnival Corp. has created a team of fire safety experts, engineers and manufacturers to run its own investigation into the Triumph fire, as well as to examine equipment onboard other vessels in the fleet.

The Triumph incident is particularly stunning not only due to the fact that the ship had been experiencing mechanical issues on the sailing prior to the fire accident, but because for five days, over 4,000 people were subjected to some of the most horrendous conditions ever reported on a cruise ship after the vessel lost power.

Toilets were not working and passengers were told to “do their business” in plastic bags, sewage and waste overflowed deck to deck and food provisions were so meager, passengers had to eat sandwiches comprised of just cucumbers, onions and some condiments.

Moreover, instead of towing the disabled vessel to the much closer port of Progreso, Mexico, Carnival decided to take the cheaper route and had the ship towed to Mobile, Alabama, which was roughly 500 miles away.

Preliminary investigations revealed that a leak in a return line caused the fire to break out in the Triumph’s aft engine room. But while the ship has two independent engine rooms, the fire managed to knock out both. Ships are required to have emergency backup generators to prevent this kind of catastrophe, but rarely do cruise ship companies listen to maritime safety agencies and their recommendations.

Cahill said the investigation will focus on preventing cruise ship fires, establishing improved engine-room backup systems and figuring out what services can run on emergency generators. The cruise line also continues to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Bahamian government in the original Triumph fire investigation, and is also cooperating with the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), which is conducting its own review of the fleet.

As the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival sets a standard for all other cruise lines and accidents that happen on Carnival Corp. vessels often have a ripple effect on other liners.

“The recent Triumph incident affects all of us,” explained Christine Duffy, president and chief executive of CLIA, the world’s largest nonprofit organization, representing 58 cruise lines worldwide and which is committed to improving and maintaining maritime safety. “Even though such incidents are rare, we don’t underestimate their impact.”

However, cruise lines have ignored CLIA safety policies in the past, including a recent lifeboat protocol that would have saved the lives of five crewmembers who were killed last month while executing a lifeboat safety drill on the Thomson Cruises vessel, the Majesty.

CLIA, in conjunction with the European Cruise Council (ECC), released ten safety protocols following another Carnival Corp. accident, the capsizing of the Costa Concordia, which killed 32 people. Among the protocols was a provision that concerned lifeboat drills, stating that cruise lines would no longer be allowed to load crewmembers into the lifeboats during safety drills, as well as limited the number of crewmembers charged with the drills’ execution.

Thomson operators loaded the lifeboats with eight crewmembers, the weight of which caused a line to snap and the lifeboat to fall into the water. Five crewmembers were killed and the others injured because of the cruise line’s negligence and disregard of general maritime safety standards.

While Carnival announces that it is stepping up to improve safety fleet wide, we hope that it is not too little, too late. Incidents involving cruise passenger and crewmember deaths, thefts, sexual assault and rape, and even passengers and crewmembers going overboard have all been reported on Carnival Corp. vessels. Anytime an accident does occur, victims and their loved ones have a right to turn to a cruise accident attorney for assistance in filing a case against the line, but overall, something must finally be done to make sure these incidents don’t happen in the first place.

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Gerry Cahill –