Marine Log

March 24, 2006

UK MAIB to lead cruise ship fire investigation

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has sent an investigator to Jamaica to assist in the investigation of yesterday's fire aboard the cruise ship Star Princess. However, the United Kingdom's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) will lead the investigation.

U.S. Coast Guard investigators are also in Jamaica.

Star Princess is a Bermuda-registered vessel. Bermuda is an overseas territory of the U.K. and the Bermuda Register is a Category 1 Red Ensign Group British Register.

Reuters.com has VIDEO indicating that damage from the fire was fairly extensive. One passenger died in the incident.

The NTSB will participate in the investigation under the provisions of the International Maritime Organization's Code for Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents.

"This is an important industry for the United States because every year millions of Americans enjoy their vacations on board cruise ships. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with the MAIB in this investigation," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker.

Star Princess is currently docked in Montego Bay and owner Princess Cruises is cooperating fully with investigators from regulatory agencies to determine the cause and assess the damage.

Princess Cruises said yesterday that, following an assessment of the damaged cabins, it was terminating the current cruise in Montego Bay.

"All passengers currently onboard will be flown home over the next two days, and will receive a full refund of their cruise and air fare," said Princess. "In addition Princess will cover any out-of-pocket travel expenses our passengers may incur for this change of plans. We will also provide passengers with a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the cruise fare paid on this voyage."

Princess said passengers in the cabins affected by the fire -- which it said numbered approximately 100 -- were being provided accommodations at hotels ashore, while the other passengers would remain on the ship until their flights home.

"The ship is safe and is fully operational and continues to provide passengers with full services," said Princess.

The ship's cruise, scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale on March 26 has been canceled. Passengers booked on this sailing will receive a full refund and 25 percent credit towards a future cruise, and Princess will additionally cover out-of-pocket travel expenses as a result of the change.

"Over the course of the next few days we will fully assess damage caused by the fire and plan to make the necessary temporary repairs to enable the ship to maintain its onward schedule," said Princess. "A plan for the repairs to the affected cabins will also be drawn up, and passengers booked in those cabins will be advised as soon as possible of our forward plans."

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