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ABOUT 2325 ON MARCH 15, 1988, A FIRE OCCURRED IN THE ENGINE ROOM OF THE BAHAMIAN FLAG PASSENGER VESSEL SCANDINAVIAN STAR. AT THE TIME OF THE FIRE, THE SHIP WAS ABOUT 50 NMI NORTHEAST OF CANCUN, MEXICO, EN ROUTE FROM COZUMEL, MEXICO, EN ROUTE FROM COZUMEL, MEXICO, TO ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, WITH 439 PASSENGERS AND 268 CREWMEMBERS ON BOARD. THE MASTER BROADCAST A DISTRESS MESSAGE AND ORDERED THE EVACUATION OF PASSENGERS TO THE FOUR MUSTER STATIONS ON THE SHIP. THE LOSS OF MAIN GENERATOR AND EMERGENCY GENERATOR ELECTRICAL POWER AND THE MALFUNCTION OF THE SHIP'S FIXED CO2 FIRE FIGHTING SYSTEM HINDERED EFFORTS TO FIGHT THE FIRE. THE INABILITY OF CREWMEMBERS TO COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH PASSENGERS CREATED CONFUSION DURING THE FIREFIGHTING AND EVACUATION ACTIVITIES. TWO CREWMEMBERS RECEIVED MINOR INJURIES DURING THE EMERGENCY. TWO PASSENGERS WERE MEDI VACED FROM THE VESSEL AND FLOWN TO A HOSPITAL IN ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, WHERE THEY WERE TREATED AND LATER RELEASED. DAMAGE AND REPAIR COSTS WERE ESTIMATED AT $3.5 MILLION.
THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE U.S. COAST GUARD: SEEK LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY TO REGULATE AND DIRECTLY SURVEIL THE SAFETY OF FOREIGN PASSENGER VESSELS AS A CONDITION FOR OPERATING FROM U.S. PORTS.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Gulf of Mexico, GM, United States
Fire on Board the Bahamian Passenger Ship
The Scandinavian Star
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Safety Recommendation History
ALTHOUGH THE USCG DOES NOT INTEND TO SEEK UNILATERAL ACTION ON THIS RECOMMENDATION, MAJOR EFFORTS HAVE BEEN DONE AT THE IMMO TO IMPROVE PORT STATE CONTROL OF FOREIGN FLAG VESSELS OPERATING FROM U.S. PORTS. BECAUSE THE OVERALL INTENT OF THIS RECOMMENDATION HAS BEEN ACHIEVED, M-89-43 HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION."
THE USCG CONCURS WITH THE INTENT OF THIS RECOMMENDATION. FOR MANY YEARS THE U.S. HAS RELIED HEAVILY ON INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PASSENGER VESSELS. THE U.S. INITIATED & CARRIED FORWARD MANY OF THE REGULATIONS SPECIFIED IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE SAFETY OF LIFE AT SEA. THIS PROCESS OF REVISING THOSE STANDARDS IN LIGHT OF IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY, EXPERIENCE, & LESSONS LEARNED FROM CASUATIES IS A DYNAMIC ONE. THE BRINGING OF A DIVERSE, KNOWLEDGEABLE INTERNATIONAL BODY OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE TO BEAR OVER THE YEARS HAS RESULTED IN A COMPREHENSIVE & REASONED APPROACH TO PASSENGER SAFETY. CURRENT U.S. RULES & THE SOLAS REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPARABLE & COMPATIBLE. TO INITIATE DIFFERENT UNILATERAL REGULATIONS FOR FOREIGN PASSENGER VESSELS OPERATING FROM U.S. PORTS WOULD UNDERMINE THE COMMITMENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE SOLAS TREATY & WOULD BE DETRIMENTAL TO OUR EFFORTS TO IMPROVE INTERNAIONAL STANDARDS AT IMO. ADDITIONALLY ON 12/19/91, PUBLIC LAW 102-241 AMENDED 46 USC 6101 TO PROVIDE FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF CERTAIN MARINE CASUALTIES ON FOREIGN PASSENGER VESSELS IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS. WE HAVE CONDUCTED NUMEROUS INVESTIGATIONS OF SUCH CASUALTIES IN COOPERATION WITH THE FLAG STATES OF THE INVOLVED VESSELS. WE ARE COMMITTED TO FOSTERING & IMPROVING INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN CASUALTY INVESTIGATIONS TO ENSURE THAT THE MAXIMUM BENEFIT IS OBTAINED FROM THE LESSONS LEARNED. THE USCG INTENDS NO FURTHER ACTION ON THIS RECOMMENDATION.
Safety Recommendation M-89-43 asked the Coast Guard to seek legislative authority to regulate and directly surveil the safety of foreign passenger vessels as a condition for operating from U.S. ports. The Safety Board continues to believe that the Coast Guard should have the same authority to regulate foreign passenger vessels operating out of U.S. ports as it has to regulate U.S. passenger vessels. Virtually all passengers on foreign passenger vessels operating out of U.S. ports are U.S. citizens. Therefore, they should be afforded the same degree of safety as the Coast Guard requires for passengers on U.S. passenger vessels. We cannot agree that the current U.S. rules and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirements are comparable and compatible. We acknowledge that an ongoing process of revising the SOLAS standards for passenger vessels is a positive and necessary mechanism for improving passenger vessel safety internationally. However, these changes have historically taken years to implement and, unfortunately, are not always written to the high safety standards that are required of U.S. passenger vessels. Moreover, the Safety Board does not believe that unilateral action by the Coast Guard to implement the requirements of Safety Recommendation M-81-43 would destroy the commitment of the United States to the SOLAS treaty. We have classified Safety Recommendation M-89-43 as "Open--Unacceptable Response" and ask that the Coast Guard reconsider its position on this matter.
I CONCUR IN PRINCIPLE WITH THIS REC. HOWEVER, I FEEL THAT WE ALREADY MEET ITS INTENT. THE U.S. HAS FOR MANY YEARS RELIED HEAVILY ON INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PASSENGER VESSELS. THE U.S. INITIATED & CARRIED FORWARD MANY OF THE REGULATIONS SPECIFIED IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR THE SAFETY OF LIFE AT SEA (SOLAS). THE PROCESS OF REVISING THOSE STANDARDS IN LIGHT OF IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY, EXPERIENCE, AND REGRETTABLE CASUALTIES IS A DYNAMIC ONE. I SINCERELY BELIEVE WE CAN SAY THAT THE CURRENT U.S. RULES & THE SOLAS REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPARABLE & COMPATIBLE. TO NOW INITIATE DIFFERENT UNILATERAL REGULATIONS FOR FOREIGN PASSENGER VESSELS OPERATING FROM U.S. PORTS WILL DESTROY THE COMMIT MENT OF THE U.S. TO THE SOLAS TREATY & WILL BE DETRIMENTAL TO OUR GOALS. NO FURTHER UNILATERAL ACTION ON THIS REC. IS PLANNED.
From the safety study Passenger Vessels Operating from U.S. Ports (NTSB/SS-89/01). The Board adopted this report on 10/11/1989. Also as a result of this safety study, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterated to the U.S. Coast Guard the following safety recommendations applicable to the foreign flag passenger vessels: M-85-59, M-89-43, and M-89-44.
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