Caribbean Fantasy FireThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its findings yesterday regarding a fire on the Caribbean Fantasy cruise ferry, operated by Baja Ferries, near Puerto Rico in August of 2016. You can read the NTSB’s summary, proable cause findings, and recommendations regarding the fire here.

We reported on the fire at the time in our article Caribbean Fantasy Catches on Fire (with video).

The ferry was carrying 387 passengers and 124 crew members as well as cargo, trailers, shipping containers, trucks and cars.

The NTSB investigators found that the fire started when a pipe leaked fuel onto an engine’s exhaust manifold. The fire spread because fuel valves were bolted open. The fire quickly spread and overwhelmed the fire-suppression system (carbon-dioxide suppression and water-misting equipment) and then burned into the vehicle and cargo areas where cars burned and explosions occurred.

After an hour, the master ordered an evacuation which took 3 hours and 43 minutes, rather than the 30 as required under the international maritime standards.  

The ferry had just three life boats which could not accommodate all of the passengers and crew,  The remainder of those aboard had to slide down emergency chutes positioned above life-rafts (we have discussed these dangerous devices in prior articles like this and this).  Five passengers were serioudly injured due to the steep descent into the life-rafts. 

Investigators found that crew members had not been trained in removing pins to deploy the lifeboats. The crew was unable to release on of the lifeboats causing two passengers to fall into the water as other passengers panicked.

A NTSB investigator stated that if the accident had happened farther from port, in rougher seas or at night, “the result could have been catastrophic,” according to USA Today

As we reported back in 2016, between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found at least 107 security deficiencies, of which 44 were related to the fire system used by the Caribbean Fantasy. The ferry reportedly had been detained three times in 2014, 2015 and 2016 because of failed inspections. 

Photographs of the fire, fire-fighting efforts and evacuation can be viewed on our Facebook page

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Photo credit: @pjpedrojuan/Twitter via ABC News, credit to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally). Caribbean Fantasy Fire

 

Richard FearnsideIt was a dark night four and one-half years ago when 30 year-old Richard Fearnside disappeared from P&O Ferries’ Pride of Kent ferry as it was sailing from Calais back to Dover. His girlfriend said that he was going to the top deck to smoke a cigarette. Richard never returned. P&O didn’t sound an alarm until the ferry returned to port.

P&O Ferries could offer no explanation to Richard’s parents, Bob and Marianne, regarding what happened to their son while the P&O ferry was cruising in the middle of the English Channel. Although other passengers and crew had disappeared from P&O ferries under mysterious circumstances in the past, the ferry company had not bothered to install a single CCTV camera on the decks of its fleet of P&O ships for safety and security purposes.

P&O chose instead to install surveillance cameras only in its duty free shops on the ferries. Jewelry and alcohol, it appears, are more precious to P&O than its customers.

Richard’s mother, Marianne, wrote a letter to P&O Ferries CEO, Helen Deeble, about her son’s disappearance and sought information. P&O sent a boorish response, not from Ms. Deeble, but from a public relations subordinate at the ferry company. The PR company man told her that installing safety cameras was a silly, impractical idea.

I sent an open letter to Ms. Deeble about the absence of CCTV cameras on the P&O ferries. Ms. Deeble chose to ignore my letter just like she initially ignored Marianne’s letter.  

Marianne and Bob started a petition titled Install CCTV Cameras on Passenger Decks.  The public is asked to read the articles posted at that site and sign the petition for P&O to install CCTV cameras. Supporters Marianne and Bob Fearnsidecan also leave a reason why they are signing the petition. There are now over 99,900 signatures and over 99,900 reasons for doing so. Take a minute and read the reasons expressed on the change.org page. A few reasons to consider: 

  • If this can save one life it is worth any cost.
  • This is a sad end for a mother and father to never know what happened when something so simple may have helped to give some answers.
  • Ridiculous that CCTV watches over Duty Free Shop, but ignores passenger decks and safety.
  • It’s imperative these cameras are installed there as been to many unexplained loss of people at sea.

Carnival Corporation named Ms. Deeble to it’s Board of Directors last year. Carnival’s fleet of cruise ships are largely not in compliance with the 2010 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act which required the installation of automatic man overboard systems whenever feasible. Unfortunately, she is not a director who will improve safety for Carnival’s passengers. And being on the Carnival board will not lead her to take overdue action for passenger safety on  P&O Ferries.

But Richard’s parents have continued their efforts, which are gaining traction. Representative James Carver told the parliament in Europe “(Richard’s) name is added to an increasing list of missing ferry and cruise ship passengers, and I am humbled to be able to support his family’s campaign for mandatory CCTV and thermal imaging cameras on all ferries operating from British and EU ports," according to Kent Online

Let’s move the petition past 100,000 supporters. Please sign here.  

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

The petition has reached 100,001 signatures!

Photo credit: Marianne and Bob Fearnside

Baltic PrincessAn international maritime newspaper reports that the police department in Sweden arrested a passenger aboard the Baltic Princess on September 30th for raping a younger woman aboard a ferry. The arrest took place when the ship arrived in Värtahamnen, a port in Stockholm, Sweden.  The man was apprehended by security guards on the ferry and then turned over to the police. The woman has been transported to the hospital for examination. Both the woman and the suspected offender were reportedly Finnish citizens.

The Baltic Princess is a cruise ship / ferry owned by the Estonia-based ferry operator Tallink and operated under the Silja Line brand.

Photo credit:  Kalle Id, CC by 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

The body of a 74 year-old passenger who disappeared from the M/V Sharden, which can carry up to 2,908 passengers, has been located in the ship’s ventilation shaft, according to AOL Travel’s article Pensioner’s Body Found in Cruise Ship Ventilation Shaft After Two Months.  

The woman sailed on holiday with her husband on the Tirrenia Sharden, which is technically a ferry (Ro-Ro) which carries cars in addition to passengers. The couple were from Munich, Germany and had vacationed in Sardinia, Italy. At the end of October, the couple took the ferry from Porto Torres in Sardinia back to Genoa on the Italian mainland.

The husband stated that "we rested in sleeping-chairs. When I woke up later, my wife had Sharden Ferry disappeared." The captain ordered the entire ship searched but the passengers could not be located, leading to speculation that she might have gone overboard or been the victim of a crime. The husband admitted that his wife sometimes became disorientated and could have wandered into the engine room and toppled into the ventilation shaft, but he criticized the crew for not carrying out a proper search of the ship.

There is no explanation regarding the extent of the crew’s search of the ship.

An admittedly bizarre occurrence, this is not the first time this has happened. Four years ago, a 47-year-old Indonesian mechanic on the Costa Serena died after falling into a ventilation duct of one of the ship’s engines, apparently while working on the maintenance of fan grids.

Photo credit: Cen via Mail Online

Early Saturday morning, a salvage team towed the still smoldering Caribbean Fantasy ferry to the harbor in San Juan, after the U.S Coast Guard had approved a towage plan. 

The Coast Guard published a video of the vessel being towed as well as photographs of the fire, fire fighting efforts and evacuation of the ferry which can be seen on our Facebook page. The photo to the right shows that the exterior paint on the ferry had been scorched and was buckling and peeling from the intense heat. 

The Coast Guard reported that the Puerto Rico Fire Department finally extinguished the fire on the Caribbean Fantasy passenger ferry using 3,000 gallons of seawater from the San Juan Harbor around 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The Caribbean Fantasy has a poor inspection record. According to a report today in the MarineLog publication, according to the Equasis data base, a whopping 10.53% of the ferry’s inspections in the past 3 years have led to detentions. According to MarineLog:

"A U.S. Coast Guard inspection in San Juan earlier this month found four deficiencies related to fire safety measures and one related to the propulsion and auxiliary machinery. None was severe enough to warrant detention of the vessel.

The most recent detention recorded in the Equasis data base was in Gibraltar in July this year and was for six days and related to deficiencies related to the auxiliary engines.

In October of last year, the vessel was detained in San Juan for three days by the U.S. Coast Guard for three deficiencies related: fire safety measures (international shore connection); crew certificates (certificates of competency) and ship’s certificates and documents (safety manning document)."

We previously reported that according to gCaptain, the description of the fire prevention deficiency reads:

"The condition of the ship and its equipment shall be maintained to conform with the provisions of the present regulations to ensure that the ship in all respects will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons onboard. In the engineering spaces, PSCO found deck plates slippery and surfaces coated with an oily layer. Oil was seeping form machinery and all bilge surfaces had a 1″ thick layer of oil; bilge pockets were full creating a fire hazard."

A casualty investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) RINA Services and the country of registration, Panama.

Video and photo credit: Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala). 

Caribbean FantasyNews sources are reporting that the Caribbean Fantasy ferry has caught fire after sailing from the Dominican Republic to San Juan, forcing passengers to evacuate the vessel.

The fire reportedly broke out as the Caribbean Fantasy sailed near Puerto Rico’s north coast, according to the Mirror

Photographs posted on social media show show the black smoke coming out of the ferry which is operated by the American Cruise Ferries.

Emergency slides can also be seen in the photos leading from the ferry down to the water and an inflatable life boat. It remains unclear how many of the over 500 passengers on the ferry went into lifeboats.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the ferry is reported to have run aground 800 yards off Punta Salinas.

Update: NBC News reports that "Gyno Funes said he was one of two mechanics in the control room when a hose carrying fuel burst open and caught on fire. ‘We were trying to extinguish it for two hours, but couldn’t,’ said the other mechanic, Marlon Doblado, after the two reached shore. The extent of injuries was not immediately clear. Several dozen people who were carried in on stretchers were being treated for dehydration, high blood pressure and respiratory problems from the smoke, said fire department spokesman Juan Vega." 

August 19 2016 Update:  Caribbean Fantasy Detained in 2015 Over Fire Prevention Violation.

Puerto Rico: 105 Injured In Fire on Cruise Ship

September 14 2016 Update: Caribbean Business: Suit: Ferry that caught Fire off San Juan had numerous deficiencies.  "Between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found at least 107 security deficiencies, of which 44 were related to the fire system used by Caribbean Fantasy, the ferry whose engine caught fire . . . Meanwhile, Caribbean Business received a photo from a source claiming that the vessel’s chief engineer and the oiler suffered severe burns during the accident. The photo purportedly showed the engineer with severe burns. However, the Coast Guard, through its spokesman, Ricardo Castrodad, said American Cruise Ferries did not inform them of anyone suffering burns."

Video credit: Mirror.

Photo credit:  @PRPDNoticias/twitter via Mirror.

Med StarVessel Finder reports that on August 9th, the ro-ro (roll on / roll off) passenger ferry Med Star caught on fire while in port in in Tripoli, Lebanon.

The ferry was preparing to depart for Turkey when the fire was spotted by the crew.

"The fire quickly engulfed the ferry as the crew and local fire brigade attempted to extinguish it. Reports state the fire swept through the superstructure before it was brought under control." 

Photo credit: ulastirma.com.tr via Vessel Finder

 

Moby ZaraYesterday, the Moby Zaza, a "roro" (roll on / roll off) ferry operated by Italian ferry company Moby Lines, caught fire at the passenger terminal in Nice, France.

A bystander sent us a short video of the fire while it was happening. 

Today, the Maritime Herald published a short article, stating that the fire erupted into the engine room after a short circuit of the diesel generator leading to thick smoke billowing from the vessel’s funnel.

According to the article, the fire caused panic among the passengers. The vessel arrived at the terminal after a voyage Bastia, Corsica and fire erupted when all the people were still on board. Some of the passengers reportedly jumped overboard in panic at the terminal.

The article further says that one crew member was injured, (and later treated at a local hospital), before the crew members could extinguish the fire. None of the passengers were injured.

The incident was reported to the port authorities and the official investigation for the cause is under way.

 

Magellan Cruise ShipThe Magellan, a cruise ship operated by U.K. based Cruise and Maritime Voyages, collided with a ferry on River Thames on Thursday.

The collision has been described different ways at different times by different newspapers. The headline of the Clacton Gazette regarding the incident first read Giant cruise ship "nearly sinks" Tilbury passenger ferry, but was later changed to Tilbury passenger ferry "fully operational" after collision with giant cruise ship.

The Clacton Gazette initially reported that "’the gigantic CMV cruise ship Magellan ploughed into the ferry just off its landing jetty at Tilbury Docks." The ferry service was thereafter suspended until safety checks could be performed. 

A passenger who had just disembarked from the ferry, witnessed the collision.

The newspaper quoted him saying: “It was really scary . . . . The ferry should have stayed moored up. After the cruise ship hit her, I thought she was going to turn over. She doesn’t sit well on the water, I thought the wash would turn her over. I was thinking, God, if she sinks, it’s a fast-flowing river.

In another newspaper, a spokesperson for Cruise and Maritime Voyages said the cruise ship was affected by a "strong gust of wind" which caused it to come into "minor contact" with a local ferry.

In the Yellow Advertiser, a spokesman for the Port of London Authority was quoted saying “the cruise ship was alongside the ferry at what we call the Tilbury landing stage – the cruise terminal – where, of course, the Tilbury to Gravesend ferry also parks. The cruise ship was leaving to go out to sea and essentially scraped alongside the ferry, which was parked up. The cruise ship continued out to sea afterwards. The damage to the ferry was minor and she was back in service on Friday. There was no serious damage and no pollution, but obviously we are going to look at all the circumstances and find out exactly what happened.”

The Gravesend–Tilbury Ferry is a passenger ferry across the River Thames east of London. It is the last public crossing point before the Thames reaches the sea.

Photo credit: Martin Dalton via Yellow Advertiser. 

Jean Nicoli Ferry ExplosionNewspapers in Europe are reporting that seventy-seven passengers and crew members were evacuated from a ferry and pier at the port of Joliette, in Marseilles, France after "after loud noises were heard below deck.’

The ferry was identified as the Jean Nicoli which was scheduled to leave for Sardinia this morning.  

Mail Online says that France deployed "heavily armed soldiers and police to its ports in fear of ISIS jihadis boarding ferries." The enhanced port security follows the ISIS inspired truck attack on Bastille Day in Nice, France which killed 84 people and the killing of a priest in a Normandy church.

But there seems to be uncertainty regarding what caused the explosion and where it occurred. 

While the UK based newspapers initially speculated that the explosion might have been caused by a terrorist organization, the media in France concluded that the explosion came from a bomb from the Second World War. The French newspaper Le Figaro suggested that the explosion was allegedly caused by a bomb left from World War II.

Mail Online’s article was originally titled "Marseilles ferry passengers and crew flee after "explosion" heard amid fears of ISIS attack."  The newspaper changed it to "Panic as 77 passengers and crew evacuated from a ferry in Marseilles after WWI ammunition "explodes" in the seabed."

It remains unclear whether the bomb was intentionally or accidentally exploded.

The bomb reportedly did not cause any damage to the ferry or injuries to the passengers or crew.

Photo Credit: Atlantico – "Marseilles: an explosion near the Seaport causes the evacuation of a ferry."