Coast Guard and NTSB to investigate cruise ship fire

DECEMBER 14, 2014 — The U.S. Coast Guard has assembled a joint investigative team with the National Transportation Safety Board and is sending four marine safety professionals from Coast Guard Sector San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Cruise Ship and Investigation National Centers of Expertise, to investigate Thursday's fire on the Oceania Cruises cruise ship Insignia in St. Lucia that claimed three lives.

The Coast Guard and the NTSB are participating with Insignia's flag state, Marshall Islands, to conduct a safety investigation of the casualty.The cruise ship, carrying 656 guests, reported the fire in the engine room while in St. Lucia Thursday morning.

Two contractors and an Insignia crew member died as a result of the fire and another crew member was injured. All passengers aboard the vessel safely disembarked in St. Lucia.

The Coast Guard was accepted by Marshall Islands as a substantially interested state under international procedures for investigating marine accidents, because the vessel transits to and from U.S. ports and had onboard many U.S. passengers.

Insignia was on a 10-day cruise which departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 7, 2014 and was scheduled to arrive in Miami December 17, 2014.

Oceania Cruises issued the following statement, Dec. 11 at 9:30 p.m.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred this morning on Insignia. We have extended our heartfelt condolences to the families of those involved and are offering them our full support. This is truly an emotional time for all of us at Oceania Cruises.

"A crew member remains in the hospital and is reported to be stable.  We are grateful there are no other crew injuries. "Our top priority is ensuring all 656 guests return home as quickly and comfortably as possible. We've arranged for charter flights this evening to return all guests to Miami, as well as transfers and hotel accommodations in Miami until flights to their city of origin can be arranged tomorrow. All guests will receive a 100 percent refund, and a 50 percent credit towards a future Oceania Cruises voyage."

The 592 ft Insignia is an R class cruise ship originally delivered to Renaissance Cruises by Chantiers de l'Atlantique in 1998.

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