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Old February 15th, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Question Design Flaw?

Both the Splendor and Liberty engine room fires left the ships nearly powerless. I know next to nothing about ship engine rooms or power systems so my comments/questions are purely out of ignorance.

I have always assumed that modern cruise ships would have port and starboard engine rooms separated by a firewall each with separate fire suppression systems. I know with even the most redundant systems there must be a cross over point that can be a single point of failure. Nevertheless, you would think the remaining engine would be sufficient to provide basic hotel services.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by green_rd View Post
Both the Splendor and Liberty engine room fires left the ships nearly powerless. I know next to nothing about ship engine rooms or power systems so my comments/questions are purely out of ignorance.

I have always assumed that modern cruise ships would have port and starboard engine rooms separated by a firewall each with separate fire suppression systems. I know with even the most redundant systems there must be a cross over point that can be a single point of failure. Nevertheless, you would think the remaining engine would be sufficient to provide basic hotel services.
There definitely was a design flaw on the Splendor and the other ships in that class all had upgrades done to the bus system.

BTW: Liberty has never had a fire.

I think you mean Triumph. Triumph has had a number of "propulsion" issues in the last six months and whatever they find in investigating the cause of the Triumph fire will be used to make changes on all other ships that have this design.

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Old February 15th, 2013, 11:36 AM
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These incidents should be used as learning experiences. If they can find flaws they to adress them and ships designers / engineers need to find ways to avoid them in the future.

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Old February 15th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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It is interesting to note that RCCL and NCL do not seem to be having these same problems as Carnival Corp. ships do. From what Paul has written, they all use the same engine manufacturer so the difference must be in the electrical connections going to the engines.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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It is a good question. I don't mean to pick on Carnival because I think "luck of the draw" is always a factor.

There have actually been MANY engine fires. Costa Allegra was adrift at sea just a few months ago (but those ships are identical to Carnival ships). But there are others.

If anything, I think Carnival could be a little more proactive about maintenance. When you hear that ship has been reacting badly for four cruises in a row before a ship fire you have to stop and say - hey, they should have taken that ship out of service and fixed it.

The only reason they don't is because you can't satisfy passengers when you do that - especially at the last minute. Maintenance has to be scheduled over a year in advance or else you are going to disrupt somebody's vacation plans. So they rarely just cancel a cruise.

But look at what happened. - now they have 14 cruises cancelled and all of this bad publicity. Whose fault is it? Wouldn't you like to be a bug on the wall at Carnival today?

But in fact, Norwegian Epic had an engine explode just about a week before the ship was finished in the shipyard. It was the first time they fired it up. They were lucky it wasn't a worse situation. Other cruise lines have had engine fires. April 22, 2012, Allure of the Seas, for example.

But yes, we do not really know the details yet. They said an "engine room" fire, but it could have been another engine control room fire, we don't really know.

But I agree that after these few incidents more should be done to make sure one fire cannot take out the entire ship's power. It is likely to be a fairly small design change that they didn't make in the past because it would have cost a few million more dollars.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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It would make sense to have a older ship in reserve during the high cruise season in the Caribbean. That way if a ship is having problems it can be replaced and the problems properly fixed. Also the extra ship could go to the distressed ship, transfer passengers and save a lot of unhappy customers and future lawsuits.

Most trucking companies have this practice and is considered a must to keep their customers happy.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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Truck....

It isn't a bad idea except that you would have to keep it provisioned and ready to sail - then you would have to do ship to ship transfer of guests and crew which is really considered pretty dangerous.

I think in this case Carnival was really hoping the ship could get towed in faster. It is had been over in 2 days instead of five this would have been a completely different situation.

So - maybe what they NEED is a majorly big TUGBOAT ready to go out and get any ship and tow it in as quickly as possible to the safest port.

two times now a ship dead in the water has drifted overnight adding difficulty to the tugs reaching her.

One big tug in the Western Carib, (Grand Cayman) and one in the upper southern Caribbean St. Martin, could conceivably get to any cruise ship quickly.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Well, a cruise ship isn't a Peterbilt. You have to look at risk management and likelihood of occurrence.

No cruise line is going to keep a capital asset worth hundreds of millions of dollars sitting idle awaiting the next emergency. Too many issues involved beyond the lost revenue. You'd need a spare crew and officers, upkeep and maintenance costs, the costs of dock space, literally hundreds of things to consider.

And as has been said many times over the past few days, you don't move people from a ship in the open water to another one , or man the lifeboats, unless the first ship is in imminent danger of sinking or has an out-of-control fire. The risks involved in moving several thousand people far outweigh the discomforts of remaining aboard.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 04:17 PM
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I just did the calculations, assuming a spare ship was kept in Miami and had to leave for Cozumel. This is 488 nautical miles and assuming a 'rescue' ship maintained 20 knots it would take them 21 hours to arrive on scene. This is not counting the time it would take to transition the ship's propulsion and electrical plant from what we former Navy snipes call 'cold iron' (shutdown) to operational status.

The U.S. military has some really big fleet tugs. They are now operated by civilian crews as part of the Military Sealift Command. Here is a photo of one.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 10:28 PM
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Mike M - yes I meant Triumph not Liberty - mea culpa.

With Carnival and Costa ships coming out of the same shipyard (at least most have, right?) it might be reasonable to assume the working portion of the vessels are pretty similar.

The crew accident on the Thomson (sp?) ship over the weekend demonstrates the danger of a passenger transfer. Of course that didn't get much press here because it didn't involve Americans.

MSC is a good organization. I know they did/do a lot of work out of Port Canaveral. They operated some of the tracking ships we used for launch support ops.
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Old February 15th, 2013, 10:45 PM
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I am not certain but I believe Carnival Corporation has been using Fincantieri as the almost exclusive builder of their ships for a while now.

And yes, out of economic and production reasons they would use the same or similar designs for the propulsion and electrical distribution systems between classes of ships. This is not unusual. I know the U.S. Navy has done it for decades, especially in nuclear powered ships, which is what I did, but also in having common layouts for conventional steam propulsion plants, as well as those of the diesel and gas turbine ships. Plus this reduces training time and costs since an engineering officer or seaman can go to different ships and already be qualified to operate the equipment.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by green_rd View Post
Both the Splendor and Liberty engine room fires left the ships nearly powerless. I know next to nothing about ship engine rooms or power systems so my comments/questions are purely out of ignorance.

I have always assumed that modern cruise ships would have port and starboard engine rooms separated by a firewall each with separate fire suppression systems. I know with even the most redundant systems there must be a cross over point that can be a single point of failure. Nevertheless, you would think the remaining engine would be sufficient to provide basic hotel services.
I can answer some of your questions.
Most of the ships built by Fincantieri do not have port and starboard engine rooms - but they do have forward and aft engine rooms. That is, one is just forward of the other. There is a watertight and fireproof steel bulkhead between the two engine rooms.
Since the ships are diesel-electric, each engine room has it's own electrical switchboard.
These two switchboards feed into a main electrical station that powers the ship. In theory, if one engine room is rendered inoperable, the other one can still provide power and propulsion.
But in the past few years, when engine room fires have taken one engine room out of service, collateral damage has been done to the main electrical station. Even though one engine room is still operable, the electric power it creates cannot be sent through the damaged system to the rest of the ship.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 06:58 AM
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It would make sense to have a older ship in reserve during the high cruise season in the Caribbean. That way if a ship is having problems it can be replaced and the problems properly fixed. Also the extra ship could go to the distressed ship, transfer passengers and save a lot of unhappy customers and future lawsuits.

Most trucking companies have this practice and is considered a must to keep their customers happy.
Keeping a ship "in reserve" only works for the military, where they have all your tax dollars to waste.
Just provisioning a cruise ship with food requires a minimum 3 weeks notice for deliveries.
No cruise line can afford an empty ship sitting at a pier all year waiting for something to go wrong - unless you are willing to pay double for your next cruise.
Where would we keep this "reserve ship"? Miami?
If we did have it in Miami, and it was fully provisioned and ready to go - and a ship broke down in the Mediterranean, it would take over a week to cruise over to the Med to help out. By that point, the broken ship would already have been rescued and the passengers flown home.
If the emergency happened in Asia, getting a spare ship over there would take more than one month.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 10:33 AM
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Thanks Bruce,
Your insight is always appreciated. So the flaw, if there is one is the loss of the main electrical station? It seems Splendor and Triumph both lost all propulsion with only one engine room down. I suppose that is also due the main station? I wonder if the damage was from the fire or the fire suppression system.
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Old February 16th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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This is just speculation, but I base it on my actual experience in commercial nuclear power at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, where one of the worst 'almost' accidents occurred in 1975. This was the infamous instrumentation cable fire started by a candle. Not to get into the detail (you can easily google it) but the bottom line is the fire seals on the cable trays and the wall penetrations where the cables ran from the control room to the reactor building failed. The seals themselves caught fire and destroyed the cables. Poor design and material selection.

So, based on initial assessment reports this morning - that the actual diesel engines appear fine and would otherwise function - I'd be looking at the fireproofing on the cross-connect cables between the split (forward and aft) electrical distribution systems. As noted in this article Paul and I put together last evening with the great help of Triumph guest Jim, the smells were definitely of an electrical fire.
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Old February 17th, 2013, 05:30 AM
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This was more likely than not an Electrical, rather than engine fire, happening in a key location where redundancy doesnt exist, or is vulnerable to a catastrophic event. Cut power, and you suppress the fire... This does makes it tough to start up again, though.
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