Coast Guard orders safety upgrades after Grandeur of the Seas fire

While the investigation continues into the May fire aboard the Baltimore-based cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas, inspectors have ordered safety improvements for "immediate action," a Coast Guard admiral told a Senate panel holding a hearing on cruise industry oversight.

Admiral Joseph Servidio said Wednesday that un-insulated aluminum deck hatches failed and allowed the fire to spread. In addition, a valve that connected the water supply to the sprinkler system on the stern mooring deck — where the fire broke out — was inaccessible.

Servidio told the Commerce Committee that inspectors are examining Grandeur's sister ships in the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines fleet for similar problems.

Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean, told the committee that "there is no such thing as perfect safety — but there is perfect commitment to safety and that is our goal every minute of every day."

Grandeur was enroute to the Bahamas on May 27 with 2,224 passengers when the fire broke out. Passengers were flown back to Baltimore and the ship went into dry dock for six weeks. After inspections by Bahamian maritime officials and the Coast Guard once the ship arrived in Baltimore, Grandeur returned to service July 12.

Servidio said recent fires aboard Grandeur, the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph "highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies' safety management cultures."

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