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Old November 2nd, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Default How many engines does a cruise ship need to legally sail?

I've tried to research this topic online, including the USCG website, but have had no luck. This question came to mind as we sail on HAL's Oosterdam at the end of the month. One of the O'dam's two azipods has reportedly failed. HAL of course, says it's safe to sail with only one engine, I was interested in an independent governing authorities opinion, not just HAL's.

The BIG question is, what happens at say midnight, if the remaining engine suffers the same fate as the first engine, and the ship is without engines? From an ignorant (me) observers point of view, this just doesn't seem to be safe...

Any help out there? Any one know of a maritime law that addresses continuing cruising (week after week) with an inoperative engine on a two engine ship?

Thanks in advance.
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Old November 4th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Under SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulations a cruise ship only needs one propulsion system. The cruise ships have multiple electrical generators that power the azipod systems. The "broken" azipod is functioning but not at full capacity.

The ship is safe to sail and has been deemed so by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is actually pretty anal about letting vessels sail without adequate safety measures in place so rest assured the vessel will in all likely hood be fine. The worst that will happen is that you will get home a bit late but you may get a day or two extra at sea.

I would be more worried about losing electricity. That would be the real bummer but they have that covered pretty well.

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Old November 4th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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Thanks for the reply Mike. I guess I'm still wondering what happens if the second azipod suffers the same fate as the failed one. How does a company then explain the decsion to continue sailing when they knew one of the two engines was bad?

If an accident happened, wouldn't this decsion be cited as a contributing factor? An opportunity to brake the accident chain?

Just curious...
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Old November 7th, 2006, 07:19 AM
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I never thought about the "legal" aspects of it before. But I do know a ship is allowed to sail with one engine. It isn't like a jet, where if you are down to one and it fails you crash. You would be adrift for a little while, but you would be safe.

If the second engine fails I am sure you will get some kind of refund, and a leisurely tug to a major port city.

keep in mind, though, if this is of importance to you, a cruise contract does not guarantee any specific ports. If you are afraid the ship will not make its itinerary, that is a real possibility. One engine cannot propel the ship as fast as two, so sometimes they change the route. They are allowed to do this, legally, with no compensation to you (though they usually do give some compensation, it is at their discretion).
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