NTSB Notes Action on Star Princess Investigation

Monday, October 23, 2006
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark Rosenker applauded the United Kingdom's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for the speedy publication of their investigative report on the fire aboard the Bermuda- registered cruise ship Star Princess, on March 23, 2006, en route from Grand Cayman to Jamaica. NTSB assisted the MAIB in their on-scene investigation and analysis of the accident, which resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen. "Cruise ships are a very large and important source of recreation for Americans. It is essential that people who ride those vessels have confidence that their safety is of foremost concern to the ship operators and to the governments of the countries where those ships operate," said Rosenker. The fire aboard the Star Princess uncovered a safety gap in the international regulations for passenger ships. A basic tenet of fire safety is to provide structural fire protection so that a fire is contained within a local area of the ship. On the Star Princess a fire on the outside cabin balconies was able jump across the fire boundaries that protect the inside of the ship. Only rapid response and professional firefighting by the ship's crew averted a major marine disaster. Immediately after the fire, the MAIB, NTSB, U.S. Coast Guard, and the cruise ship industry worked together to address the safety problem. The issue was brought to the International Maritime Organization, and new fire safety amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention were adopted in May 2006. "This case is a clear demonstration of successful cooperation among governments and industry to quickly address a major safety problem," Rosenker said. "It is important that safety at sea be addressed in a manner that appropriately reflects the international nature of shipping."
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