June 25, 2004

QM2 bathrooms get rapid safety fix

Cunard is taking urgent measures to fit smoke detectors in all the bathrooms of the Queen Mary 2 while in Southampton, U.K., prior to its next voyage to New York.

These and other measures are being taken following a BBC investigation of some of the materials used in the bathrooms. (You can access the BBC video here)

Yesterday, Britain's Maritime & Coastguard Agency issued a statement confirming that it had been investigating a report brought to it by the BBC into the fire retardant qualities of a bathroom wall and under basin fascia within the bathroom unit, on board various passenger cabins on the Queen Mary 2.

"The liner is owned and operated by Cunard and built by Chantiers d'Atlantique, in France and is classed by Lloyd's Register and flagged by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) onto the Red Ensign," noted the statement.

"The classification society which issued the type approval certificates for the bathroom units under consideration is Bureau Veritas," continued the statement. "The MCA has been working closely with Cunard and Lloyd's Register to fully assess the situation."

A sample of the suspect material was removed from the vessel by an MCA surveyor when it docked in New York earlier this month, and was flown to a fire test laboratory in Cheshire. "Those robust tests under laboratory conditions now reveal that the composition of the material has failed and an investigation is under way to see how that material was introduced into those bathroom units despite a rigorous quality assurance procedure during construction."

It has to be stressed, says the statement, that the material under consideration is in a normally low risk wet area of the cabin and that the vessel already has a highly efficient sprinkler system throughout its passenger accommodation. The MCA is satisfied that passenger safety is not compromised.

Meanwhile, the MCA says it will continue to work closely with Cunard, Lloyd's Register and the yard in order to find an efficient technical solution which helps to ensure that passengers continue to travel in safety. Cunard has already agreed to immediately install locally sounding smoke alarms and to commence an urgent program of additional sprinklers. A statement from Cunard said it was also increasing the ship's fire patrols and replacing the front panel of bathroom vanity units.

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