Faulty Sprinklers Keep Norwegian Cruise Ship in Port

Tuesday, May 29, 2001
A cruise ship with more than 2,000 passengers aboard was barred from leaving port in Miami for a second day on Monday, pending repairs to fix what the U.S. Coast Guard called "a systematic failure" of its fire sprinkler system.

Measuring 978 ft. (298 m), the Bahamian-flagged cruise ship Norway, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, was scheduled to leave the Port of Miami on Sunday for a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean. Officials with Norwegian Cruise Line, a unit of NCL Holding, could not be reached for comment on Monday, a national holiday. But a cruise line spokesman reportedly said that the repairs would not be finished in time for the ship to sail before Tuesday.

Coast Guard inspectors barred the ship from leaving after finding more than 100 temporary patches clamped over holes in the main pipes that supply water to the fire sprinkler system. The leaks should have been welded shut but were instead covered with rubber patches that could quickly melt in a fire, allowing water to spill out before it reached the sprinkler heads, the Coast Guard said. That violated international safety standards and "could severely limit the ship's ability to fight a fire on board," the Coast Guard said.

The commanding officer of the Coast Guard's regional Marine Safety Office, said he sympathized with the Norway's passengers but that "the potential for loss of life at sea, however, far outweighs the inconvenience of a delayed vacation."

The agency carried out a surprise inspection of the ship when it returned to port on Sunday, acting on a tip from an officer who visited the Norway on an unrelated matter and noticed several patches on the sprinkler pipes.

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