“Fiery” hot trend on Carnival cruise ships

Carnival Triumph ER fire

Sorry about the lack of posts lately, been busy with fathering / home duties… just wrote the comment below as a reply in the forum, but for those of you not following the discussion on the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph fire, and dead ship scenarios over there, it may be of interest to you.

These are major casualties as far as far as I am concerned, and should be properly investigated and reported. I am not sure what Bahamas will do as the Triumph’s flag authority, but Panama has swept the Splendor matter far under the rug, probably under the building foundation for that matter. I can’t find a single mention of an official incident report or investigation of the Carnival Splendor.

A brief overview of large cruise ship propulsion system…

Carnival Triumph ER post fire inspection (source)

On the Fincantieri built ships I worked on (from the same shipbuilding company as the Triumph and Splendor), which I don’t believe there is anything different or unusual about them from Carnival’s, except maybe a little bit of the layout, the power system / propulsion system consisted of 5 Zulzer medium speed engines (12.6 MW each) as generators sets, producing 6600 vac. The engine and alternator were in the same compartment, located in two separate engine rooms (2 in aft er, 3 in fwd).

Power develop from one engine room went into one switchboard room (two main switchboards in two separate rooms). Each switchboard fed, primarily, the propulsion motors and hotel load, the propulsion motors were in another separate compartment.

Each propulsion motor (~20MW) has two sets of windings; if you were to lose a component, you could still get half motor power. Plus each winding was driven by a separate switchboard – winding one of each propulsion motor – fwd switchboard, winding two – aft switchboard. Being a variable speed propulsion motors, each winding was driven by its own SCR driver (frequency drive) and its own propulsion transformer.

Like all propulsion systems, the controls would be from various WH locations, ECR, or in the ER (local). This is not an abnormal system from what I have seen and heard, it is a very common design with lots of redundancy built in. I found the system properly illustrated on SAM electronics’s website, linked. To have a view of the engine room I describe above, head over to the video page, where you find two tours, one for Disney ship built in Italy, and one for the Royal Caribbean ship, built in France. The french built ones, had even more separation of compartment, but the power plant was nearly identical in scope and operation.

Carnival Splendor in Victoria (Wikipedia)
To have two accident occur in a short time frame, that disabled two passenger ships of this age and size, is quite scary, due to the fact that passenger vessels now, are mostly identical in power plant package. To not issue proper accident reports on these incidents is extremely worrisome, as we may have major design issues, or operational vulnerabilities underlying both casualties (that we know of) that are not being addressed because they are not being communicated.
The US’s NTSB and USCG is “helping” in the Triumph investigation, but the Bahamas Maritime Authority is supposedly the lead agency; judging from their website, and its lack of prior investigation being available to view, it does not look like we will hear more of this major casualty. I cannot find any mention of a report, completed or underway, from the Panama Maritime Authority either on the Carnival Splendor. 
Here is some other interesting background on the Splendor, from a lawyer, but still interesting. Here’s a wider piece on the Splendor, a public relations class assignment, from the Arthur W Page society, a non governmental public relation group. Here’s quote from that piece…

CEO of Carnival – Gerry Cahill

Gerry Cahill, CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, later confirmed that the fire was a result of a catastrophic failure in one of six diesel generators. Cahill said he doubted that any of the other ships in the company’s fleet were at risk.

Ooops. I guess his doubts should not be really trusted. He’s preside over the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph fire and subsequent “dead ship” leaving around 9000 people stranded. Of course the Carnival Group corporate media relations people have also dealt with numerous other disasters like the Costa Concordia, Costa Allegra, etc. etc. and that’s just in the last three years. Safety first, mmmmm.

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