Did the Grandeur of the Seas Fire Compromise the Crew Member Emergency Evacuation System?

Fire Evacuation System - Grandeur of the SeasCruise ships like Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas have different emergency evacuation systems for the passengers and the crew.  Passengers are loaded onto lifeboats at their muster stations on the port and starboard sides of the ship and then lowered into the water. The lifeboat is motored away from the burning or sinking ship by a crew member.

Crew members, on the other hand, are required to use life-rafts which are jettisoned into the sea from large canisters primarily located at the stern of the ship.  

You can see right canisters in the image above and sixteen canisters located at the stern of the Grandeur in the video below (credit: solandtravel / YouTube) which was sent to my attention this morning by cruise expert Professor Ross Klein

These canisters, and the evacuation chutes and life-rafts therein, appear to have been destroyed or partially burned during in the two hour fire early Monday morning (see photo below right, via WTSP.com).  It is my understanding that the life-rafts have a capacity of around 25 persons each. So assuming these 16 canisters were all that were destroyed in the fire, life-rafts for around 400 crew members - about 50% of the crew - may have been burned up.

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship FireThere are some "extra" canisters on the cruise ship, but not nearly enough to accommodate all of the crew.

If the fire on the Grandeur had not been extinguished, the passengers would have been safely evacuated in the lifeboats which had already been lowered to deck level and were awaiting loading upon order of the ship's Master. But a few hundred crew members may have found themselves faced with jumping into the water.

Considering that a nearby Carnival cruise ship was on standby, and Coast Guard vessels were enroute, the crew members without a life-raft may have been transferred to other vessels in this particular case.  But a fire like this which is not contained, and which occurs further at sea and in rougher weather, may pose serious consequences to the crew's safety. 

June 3 2013 Update: What Caused the Fire Aboard the Grandeur of the Seas?

  

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Stuart Jordan - May 30, 2013 2:53 PM

Besides those rafts being damaged, there is another issue that you do not mention. Even if they were not damaged, they were most definitely inaccessible to be used as they were in the fire area. If a significant percentage of the crew rescue rafts are all in one small area, that is a major flaw in the safety plan. They should be spaced out around the ship making some/most of the accessible no matter what happens.

Crew88 - May 30, 2013 5:08 PM

This is incorect! I'm working as a bartender onboard different company, and the thing is that EVERY GUEST LIFEBOAT which takes 150 pople needs 6 crewmembers to assist embarkation and to drive it, which means that for 20 lifeboats 120 crewmembers goes together with the guests, plus last lifeboat by the number is allways for crew only. Most often for officer and management positions with privileges which means there is more than enough space for every crewmember as well as guests in case of abandoning ship

nedelko corria - May 30, 2013 5:39 PM

mr walker i think there is plenty of life rafts for the crew each life raft can fit up to 12 crew members however they are very hard to get into when your in the water, when i did my stcw training i had to claim on one of those things and i was in decent shape but i had a difficult time doing so. i can't imagine a crew member trying to get on those things in the ocean i think the cruise lines should come up with a better life raft because its not an easy task to claim those things i believe that in a major fire some crew members will drown due to the poor design of the life rafts.

nedelko corria - May 31, 2013 5:35 PM

sorry i was wrong on the number of crew members that can fit on one life raft the number of crew is 25 crew members at max wich is ridiculous because when i did the excercise it was 12 of us and it was really cramped up i dont see how you can fit 25 crew members on one of those things lol

Andrew Parker - June 1, 2013 6:43 AM

Liferafts are supplied in different capacities and yes they are cramped if full to capacity. There may be LSA equipment compromised in a fire situation, that is why LSA is distribute around the vessel. It would be impossible to guarantee that no LSA would be compromised in a fire situation. Fires on ship's are extremely rare because of stringent fire protection regulations and properly trained crews.

Jim Walker - June 1, 2013 5:40 PM

Andrew: Cruise ship fires are common, even on Stena Line which I understand you wok for. Regards. Jim Walker

Ken - June 2, 2013 2:27 AM

Jim - Sunday, during the day before the fire, i walked with my husband around deck 5. We couldn't go all around - the front/bow was blocked because we were in port and the bow lines were in operation. Anyway, when we got near the back end, along the starboard side were All new canister life rafts ready to replace the old ones on the aft deck. There were enough to replace all the old ones, they were wrapped in plastic, stacked two high, and there must have been two groups of eight - all on the starboard deck just where the roof begins to go over deck 5 near the aft of the ship.

When I saw all the life raft canisters damaged by the fire - especially the ones on the right side, I was kind of shocked too. But I knew about all the others around the corner.

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