April 15, 2006
Princess takes balcony fire precautions
Princess Cruises has issued a statement on the fire that broke out early on the morning of March 23 aboard the Star Princess as it was on passage between Grand Cayman and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
"Although no definitive cause of the fire has yet been determined, we can confirm that the fire did start on one of the ship's balconies, and spread to other balconies," says the statement.
"We believe the fire is an isolated incident," says Princess, which notes that it has been safely operating ships with large numbers of balconies for over ten years and that Star Princess fire "is the first such incident that has occurred."
Although the fire is still the subject of an investigation led by the U.K.'s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Princess says that "after the fire we immediately put in place on all our ships precautions designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event of a similar situation happening again, we would be able to quickly detect and extinguish the fire."
The cruise line says it "implemented a 24-hour fire watch of our balconies, introduced specific training and fire response procedures for our crew in handling fires on balconies, enhanced communication to passengers regarding fire safety, and changed certain crew housekeeping procedures on balconies."
"Further to the immediate precautionary measures already in place," says Princess, "we are moving quickly to provide long-term and permanent measures to improve fire safety on our balconies. We are well advanced with the development of these permanent measures and, naturally, will be taking fully into account the requirements of the regulatory authorities in both the United Kingdom and the United States."
Star Princess is registered in Bermuda. The Bermudian authorities invited the MAIB to conduct the investigation under a long-standing arrangement between the U.K. and other Red Ensign countries. The MAIB team that includes the United States Coast Guard, the United States National Transportation Safety Board, and fire investigators from the FBI.