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US Lawyer says he is amazed at lack of coverage of Dawn Princess NZ fire

November 21, 2013 Cruise No Comments Email Email

US lawyer Jim Walker of Walker & O’Neill, Maritime Lawyers on his web site said today that while he was the first to report on the fire which broke out sometime after 8:00 PM Friday night as the Dawn Princess sailed  between Wellington and Napier in New Zealand, there has been remarkably little media coverage of the fire on the Dawn Princess cruise ship last weekend.

He adds that Princess Cruises has also been tight lipped about what happened, stating only that a fire occurred in an electrical substation on deck six of the ship and that other than a few sites, no newspapers or news stations in the US have reported on the fire, even though US citizens were aboard and the Carnival owned Princess Cruises is based in California.

Dawn Princess

Dawn Princess

In addition, my research also shows that very few Australia media reported the fire either and presumably there were quite a number of Australians and New Zealanders on board.

The Herald Sun, published a short article, reporting that crew members stated that the fire suppression system, which should have suppressed the fire, had failed.

Walker says that appears to explain why over 30 minutes after the fire was first reported [when the passengers were initially ordered to their cabins] the captain ordered them to their muster stations where they remained for over an hour.

He adds that a fire on the high seas is serious business, with a fire and a failed suppression system on the high seas potentially deadly.

Walker says that there appears to be little appreciation of this danger expressed on the few social media sites discussing the incident, with regular cruisers on cruise fan sites like Cruise Critic appear more interested in praising the crew for battling the fire than having a meaningful discussion about why the fire broke out and why the fire suppression reportedly failed, he adds, assuming the Herald Sun account is correct.

He adds not to get him wrong, with the crew members who battled the fire and risking their  lives deserving the credit, but in the interest of the crew’s safety and well-being, there should be an explanation why the automatic fire suppression system reportedly failed necessitating the heroic action by the crew.

Walker says that the cruise industry has been under scrutiny following numerous fires during the last couple of years, with CNN running a story earlier this year entitled “Spate of Fires Poses Problems for Cruise Industry.”

Walker says he is troubled by not only that are there fires, but the automatic suppression systems which are suppose to put the fire out failing, with for example, the Carnival Splendor and the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas fires both involved failed suppression systems.

Regarding the high profile Splendor fire, CNN reported that “the U.S. Coast Guard said the ship’s CO2 firefighting system had failed to operate correctly due to leaks, poor maintenance and component failures.”

So, he asks, what is the explanation for the reported failure of the suppression system on the Dawn Princess?

It is over 16 years old and do other Princess Cruises ships have the same problem?

Princess will never say, and it does not appear that the public is clamouring to find out.

For the time being, it looks like we will all remain in the dark, but perhaps when the Dawn returned to Sydney on November 15 some of the passengers and crew would have more to say, but not so far!

Walker says that perhaps Princess escaped US scrutiny because the fire occurred on a Friday night on the other side of the world at the beginning of a three day Veteran’s Day weekend when many in the US newspaper and television businesses were on vacation, or perhaps, the public may well be tired of nonstop cruise ship bad news.

He adds, luckily there were no injuries due to this latest fire, with the only casualty appearing to be the public’s demand for an explanation regarding what went wrong on the Dawn Princess last weekend.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

John Alwyn-Jones, Cruise Editor and Correspondent

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