Subscribe to our newsletter

The Good, the Bad, and the Not Too Smart Page 2

The Good, the Bad, and the Not Too Smart

Part 2: Where There’s Lint, There’s Fire

Elizabeth Ginns Britten — February 2004

   

Illustration: Brian Raszka
 More of this Feature

• Good Fortune
• Where There’s Lint, There’s Fire
• Leap for Life
• Losing More than Sleep
• Adrift for 12 Hours


 Related Resources
• Feature Index

 Elsewhere on the Web
• Professional Mariner

On July 20, 1998, The Carnival Cruise Line ship Ecstasy was leaving the Port of Miami, bound for Key West, when dense smoke began to billow from her stern. The fire that produced it eventually injured 23 people, knocked out both propulsion units, disabled one rudder, and damaged the controls for the other. The total cost of damage to the ship from the fire was estimated at $17 million.

But the real story was the source of the fire. Apparently some crew members had been welding in the laundry room when a pile of lint ignited. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the lint had accumulated because Carnival had failed to properly maintain the ship’s laundry exhaust ducts.

Although lint accumulation in laundry ducts is a major cause of household fires, Lt. Cmdr. Robert D. Kirk, investigation officer with the U.S. Coast Guard District 7 Marine Safety Division in Miami, reported that this was the first he’d ever heard of an onboard fire caused by lint.

Immediately after the accident, the NTSB issued a recommendation that ship operators inspect their laundry ventilation systems and remove any lint accumulations. It also urged operators to continue to detect and eliminate lint and any other combustible materials found in the vents. In addition, the NTSB recommended that Carnival Cruise Line institute measures to prevent unauthorized activities, like welding, which could ignite a fire.

Since the fire Carnival has modified its equipment, cleaned the laundry ventilation ducts, and installed “turbo lint filters” on Ecstasy. It also created access space in the ventilation system for inspection and cleaning, which is to be done every two to two and a half years or whenever the ship is dry-docked.

Next page > Part 3: Leap for Life > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

Related Features