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  #1  
Old January 2nd, 2011, 08:37 PM
Aerogirl Aerogirl is offline
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After reading the article on CM home page; Splendor Fire: Troubling RevelationsĒ I realize just how lucky the passengers & crew were. Itís also a wakeup call for people do realize that you need to be prepared to act if the need arises. Things like paying attention where the stairwells are in the event youíre unable to see due to smoke. How many people count the number of cabin doors to the exit? Itís not something people want to think about after all your on vacation, but let us all be reminded how important the muster drill and having some type of emergency plan in place.
I found the article disturbing and will in the future not be paranoid but will have pay more attention to the ships set up.
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Old January 2nd, 2011, 09:04 PM
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Good point!

Safety is allways important.

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Old January 2nd, 2011, 09:58 PM
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Very true but I must admit that I don't pay attention to muster drills or to airline security drills .

From 1972 to 1996 I was a Fire Warden in the NYC office building I was working in .We had drills at least once a month which I conducted .Everyone seemed to be listening intently .However , there was a fire in the building one day and not one person adhered to the drill . We were on the 17th. floor of a 20 story building and people literally rand down the stairs ,jumping on others ,it was a mess.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 06:26 AM
ToddDH ToddDH is offline
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Thank Heaven we have Dave who is a technical expert.

I'm way over my head here so I shall I tread carefully. I do, however, have some questions that maybe Dave or someone out there with the true expertise can answer.

The Splendor is approximately three years old and is therefore a new ship.

All ships must pass rigorous SOLAS inspections which are well attended by safety experts and even, I believe, involve significant USCG participation at least for those vessels that will be using American ports. Therefore I've some questions:

It appears to me that there were egregious variations to say the least between design and actual build. How is it possible that these flaws were not detected at time of SOLAS inspection prior to the ship receiving its certificate?

Is it routine that fire suppression systems aboard commercial passenger vessels are deemed to be proper and effective without actual physical testing?

I just cannot believe that there were so many critical problems with such an important safety system that were obviously completely missed.

If indeed that proves to be the case, then I believe industry fire safety inspection officials (including the USCG) should take a step back and review their own inspection procedures which, after all, are those that deem a ship safe and in compliance in all aspects of safety, something the Splendor obviously failed in practice and failed miserably. I personally have to think that a lot of the blame for this incident falls directly upon all such inspecting bodies as much as it does the builder, etc.

I may be way off base and please correct me if I am. If not, I think this problem goes much deeper than most of us realize.

Which begs another question. How could Carnival inspect all of its ships (most of which I believe are built by Fincantiere) so quickly? After all, the Splendor is only one of several sister ships. Also did Carnival's inspection include ALL their ships, even those not built by Fincantiere.

In view of this incident, are all cruise lines inspecting all of their vessels regardless of where they were constructed?

Finally, why are not these systems physically tested periodically to actually insure they will operate correctly in an emergency? If they had been, why weren't these pitfalls discovered long before the incident occurred?

Todd
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 11:56 AM
Luanne Russo Luanne Russo is offline
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I always took safety seriously on a ship. My family spent part of the first day going over the "what ifs" It was not to be overly protective, but to make sure that the boys knew what to do. Better to explain before something happened, than to wait until things were a bit confusing.

I remember one time when someone on the Carnival board requested a packing list. I posted mine and was teased because of some of the items. The two things I was teased about was duct tape and a flash light. I have needed both of these, and sure glad I didn't listen to those who thought I was foolish.
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  #6  
Old January 3rd, 2011, 06:59 PM
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ToddDH,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You View Post
It appears to me that there were egregious variations to say the least between design and actual build. How is it possible that these flaws were not detected at time of SOLAS inspection prior to the ship receiving its certificate?


The country that grants a certificate is the country of registry. It's really up to that country's inspectors to determine what needs to be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Is it routine that fire suppression systems aboard commercial passenger vessels are deemed to be proper and effective without actual physical testing?


"Actual physical testing" of fire sppression systems tends to make a very costly mess. Look at where the water will go if you activate the sprinkler heads in a commercial office building or store, and consider the damage that it would cause.

Additionally, sprinkler heads are typically activated by fusible links -- metal strips that melt at a relatively low temperature that would be indicative of a fire.

Of course, the systems should have been tested during construction. Also, such systems usually have a means to test their alarms and control circuits.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I just cannot believe that there were so many critical problems with such an important safety system that were obviously completely missed.


It's not clear that problems were missed. The problems might have arisen after the last inspection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
If indeed that proves to be the case, then I believe industry fire safety inspection officials (including the USCG) should take a step back and review their own inspection procedures which, after all, are those that deem a ship safe and in compliance in all aspects of safety, something the Splendor obviously failed in practice and failed miserably. I personally have to think that a lot of the blame for this incident falls directly upon all such inspecting bodies as much as it does the builder, etc.


It's a pretty good bet that the U. S. Coast Guard will review its procedures for inspection of commercial ships when the investigators complete their analysis of the incident. Without detailed analysis of the points of failure, though, any changes to procedures are just "knee-jerk" reaction that could make the situation worse rather than improving it. When you focus limited resources (money, manpower, etc.) on things that don't matter, you divert them from things that do matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Which begs another question. How could Carnival inspect all of its ships (most of which I believe are built by Fincantiere) so quickly? After all, the Splendor is only one of several sister ships. Also did Carnival's inspection include ALL their ships, even those not built by Fincantiere.


Personnel onboard can do the inspections, since the problems were in occupied spaces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
In view of this incident, are all cruise lines inspecting all of their vessels regardless of where they were constructed?


One certainly hopes so!

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Finally, why are not these systems physically tested periodically to actually insure they will operate correctly in an emergency? If they had been, why weren't these pitfalls discovered long before the incident occurred?


Again, consider the mess that you'll make and the damage that you'll cause by setting off the sprinklers in most commercial buildings. It's no different aboard ship.

Additionally, some shipboard fire suppressant systems use chemicals that need to be vented and then recharged (or supply cannisters replaced) if one sets off the system.

Norm.
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  #7  
Old January 3rd, 2011, 09:04 PM
ToddDH ToddDH is offline
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Thanks Norm for some good insight. As I said I'm over my head technically here but I just wanted some questions answered and you have done that. Of course one couldn't test a system for the reasons you stated. I wonder though, why then wasn't there a test system that would use information gathered from the real system but would not expel any necessary suppressants nor destroy any property?But one other thing. If, as has been claimed, that the directions for use of the system didn't jive with the actual system installed, how did this continue for almost three years? Maybe it's possible the directions and schematics were updated with the wrong info. Nevertheless, to me at least it's rather disconcerting.

Todd
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Old January 4th, 2011, 12:12 AM
Aerogirl Aerogirl is offline
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If thatís the case how can people trust any so called safety measures that are there to help us in the event of a fire or some other emergency. They have a responsibility to the public and their employees to be certain that the systems do work. Itís unacceptable!
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Old January 4th, 2011, 06:40 PM
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ToddDH,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You View Post
Thanks Norm for some good insight. As I said I'm over my head technically here but I just wanted some questions answered and you have done that.



You're welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Of course one couldn't test a system for the reasons you stated. I wonder though, why then wasn't there a test system that would use information gathered from the real system but would not expel any necessary suppressants nor destroy any property?



There probably is, but any test that does not make a system function "end to end" could miss a defect or malfunction in the portion of the system that, for whatever reason, it does not test.


There's also the possibility that a test circuit malfunctioned and failed to report a defect in the main system.


Quote:
Originally Posted by You
But one other thing. If, as has been claimed, that the directions for use of the system didn't jive with the actual system installed, how did this continue for almost three years? Maybe it's possible the directions and schematics were updated with the wrong info. Nevertheless, to me at least it's rather disconcerting.



I'm not persuaded that such a problem ever arose. When a casualty occurs, there's usually a lot of speculation as to what went wrong. Also, the reporters from the major media tend not to be familiar with either the equipment or the process of investigation, and thus sometimes report conjectures and hypotheses as though they were established fact. Radio talk host John Bachellor is fond of saying that the first three reports from the front lines are always wrong.


Having said that, Carnival Corporation has demonstrated a willingness to cut corners that compromise safety to fatten its bottom line in the past. The company had a slew of very serious incidents in the 2002-2003 time frame that led to the "resignation" -- which might not have been voluntary -- of one of its senior executives. I'm not convinced that it's not happening again. We'll know for sure if more incidents arise.

Norm.
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  #10  
Old January 4th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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Safety systems can pass initial testing and inspections because the components used - while sub-standard - are still good enough to withstand a few uses. But then they eventually fail earlier than would more robust components.

As has been addressed by others, testing a fire suppression system - especially a CO2 deluge apparatus - is a mess and really isn't needed. If the system works in a static test array, which I have no doubt was done with the CO2 system used on all those ships, there are valid engineering reasons to not test it each time it is installed...provided you have documented test data on all components and it is installed in accordance with the system diagram. Look at it this way: Chevy tests a new engine and it meets EPA requirements and so forth, so they then get the okay to punch out a million of them as long as they can show the same templates were used for each copy.

So what we might see here is all the documentation being submitted as being correct, and therefore accepted by the various regulatory bodies. But it seems to me that nobody took a paper copy of the design and a flashlight and walked it down on the Splendor. If they had, they would have said "hey, that valve is supposed to be over there and that control panel is supposed to look like this...and..."

It really does bother me that something like this happened because it shows a breakdown in QA/QC by the shipyard and Carnival.

(QA/QC: Quality Assurance and Quality Control - inspections performed all along a process which checks everything against established standards, designs, etc.)
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Last edited by Dave Beers; January 4th, 2011 at 09:40 PM.
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  #11  
Old January 5th, 2011, 06:47 PM
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Dave Beers,

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As has been addressed by others, testing a fire suppression system - especially a CO2 deluge apparatus - is a mess...
Carbon dioxide isn't that bad of a mess. The residue, so-called "dry ice," will evaporate fairly quickly. So-called "Purple K" is much worse, especially if it gets into electrical circuitry.

Norm.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 07:54 PM
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Yes, PKP will damage electrical cables and other components.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 10:06 PM
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With the size and power of LED flashlights it never hurts to have one with you at all times on a cruise ship or any place where it could get dark if the power fails.

Those hallways can get awful dark if the power fails
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Old January 7th, 2011, 09:22 AM
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What amazed was the fact that there were so few vital systems on backup power. No plumbing at all?

I am no expert in these matters so I won't comment. The record of the industry of being able to avoid such incidents is very good. There have been plenty of small fire on ships that went nowhere.

This just seems like a very valuable learning experience for the people who build these things on what not to do.
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