Fuel Pump Explosion & Power Outage on HAL's Statendam

Cruise List broke a story today about a power outage which occurred on Holland America Line's  Statendam cruise ship last Thursday. 

The Cruise List blog explains that last Thursday evening his proprietary application which searches for cruise information on Twitter picked up a tweet about a “fuel pump explosion” that caused a “two hour Power Outage on the Statendam.”  He re-tweeted it but later deleted it when he received a direct message from the person originally tweeting the information, begging him to delete it for Cruise Ship Power Outagereasons not explained (he sounds a lot nicer than me).

Cruise List then left a post on Cruise Critic asking if anyone knew about an incident on the Statendam. Yes, several passengers responded - the cruise ship indeed "lost all power and were serving cheese sandwiches in the main dining room."

This incident seems to have passed without much consequence other than the inconvenience of cheese sandwiches. But the Statendam is almost two decades old - it is one of the older ships in the modern cruise line industry.

As the last couple of years have demonstrated, power failures on cruise ship are a very serious matter. Engine room fires and explosions which disable cruise ships, for a few hours or to the point that the ship is disabled at sea, are hardly rare. Consider these incidents in the last three years:

  • The Sun Princess lost power earlier this month;
  • The Costa Allegra lost all power off the coast of southern Africa earlier this year and had to be towed back to a port;
  • The M/V Plancius adventure cruise ship lost power and was stranded in the South Atlantic;
  • The Azamara Quest lost most of its power this year following an engine room fire near Bornea;
  • The Cunard QM2 suffered what is described as a catastrophic explosion and lost power on the high seas;
  • The MSC Opera lost power in the Baltic Sea, with passengers describing the ordeal as "shocking, scary, with dark hallways and backed up toilets," according to the BBC.
  • The Norwegian Dawn lost power in the Caribbean; and
  • The most famous recent power failure occurred aboard the Carnival Splendor. The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier had to send helicopters to drop relief food to the cruise ship and a fleet of tug boats had to push and pull the Splendor to San Diego for extensive repairs.  

Carnival Splendor Cruise Ship Stranded - Power OutageThe cruise industry tries to keep explosions and power outages quiet, to avoid images like the Carnival Splendor cruise ship (right) stranded at sea or videos like this.  

The Statendam captain's blog mentions nothing about the power outage. I'm sure that that's not a reflection of him as much as a corporate policy prohibiting any mention of something like this.

It's important for the cruise community to keep an eye out for potential safety issues that the cruise lines would prefer you not know.

Hats off to Cruise List, which states that it "was created as a place where you could go to see what was going on aboard ships without a sales pitch." 

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