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Marine Log

October 23, 2006

U.K. publishes report on Star Princess balcony fire

The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published today its report into the fire that broke out on a cabin balcony on board the Bermuda-registered cruise liner Star Princess on March 23, 2006.

Electronic copies of today's report can be downloaded from MAIB's website at http://www.maib.gov.uk

The investigation was carried out by the MAIB on behalf of the Bermuda Administration with the help of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Stephen Meyer, said:

"This investigation is probably the biggest conducted by the MAIB since the Sea Empress in 1996. It has already had a significant impact on both the cruise industry and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulation relating to cruise ship balconies.

"In the seven months since the incident, we have been working closely with the IMO, Princess Cruise Lines and its parent company, Carnival, and representatives of the cruise industry to understand how the fire spread and to introduce measures to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.

"I must congratulate the industry on the speed with which action has been taken.

"Carnival began replacing all combustible dividers on the 26,400 balconies of its 81 vessels immediately following the incident and expects to replace all of them with non-combustible ones by the end of this year. This is a major achievement.

"IMO has already issued interim operational recommendations to cruise lines with balconied vessels and has proposed amendments to the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention (SOLAS) which will be considered for world-wide adoption as early as next month.

"This is well ahead of IMO's normal timescale for introducing new safety measures and recognizes, I believe, the thoroughness of the MAIB's investigation and the importance of the recommendations we have made.

"In our discussions with the industry, I have been concerned that the measures now being put in place will improve significantly the safety of cruise ships. I am satisfied that this is the case."

The IMO's proposed amendments relate to the use of non-combustible dividers on cabin balconies, and the restricted use of combustible materials on balconies, unless fire detection and extinguishing systems are fitted.

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