Carnival Splendor returns

By Michelle Baran
LONG BEACH, Calif. — After three-and-a-half months out of service, the damage to the Carnival Splendor has been repaired, and measures have been taken to hopefully prevent fires from incapacitating the ship again, said Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill.

The Splendor welcomed media and travel agents on Saturday, on the eve of its return to service.

A Nov. 8 engine room fire knocked out power on the ship and forced it into drydock.

The fire broke out while the ship was off the coast of Mexico. Three days later, tugboats towed the ship into San Diego.

Cahill said the fire cost Carnival about $65 million, including repairs and lost revenue.

Gerry Cahill on SplendorThe fire was caused by a catastrophic failure in diesel generator No. 5. According to Cahill, the power went out because the heat from the fire melted the insulation around electrical cables and ruined the cables. He said there was heat damage in the switchboard room, as well.

While the fire was in the aft engine room, the Splendor’s second engine room should have kicked in.

"Having two engine rooms like we do is pretty much the norm in the cruise industry," explained Cahill. "What we have decided to do, and this will go across the Carnival group I’m sure, is we’ve determined there are certain things that we can do to increase the effectiveness of that redundancy."

Cahill said these measures include additional suppression systems to put out fires more quickly and additional insulation over the cabling and under the switchboard areas.

Cahill said the Splendor re-entered service later than initially planned because damage to the engine room was more extensive than originally estimated and because of the time it took to get spare parts manufactured.

A replacement diesel generator weighing 218,000 pounds was airlifted from Europe. Two 106,000-pound alternators along with 110 miles of electrical cabling were replaced.

All systems have been inspected by Lloyd’s Register Group and by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Forensic fire investigators are examining the failed generator, which is currently in San Francisco. An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Carnival has created a task force consisting of 18 employees who are working to improve fire prevention, detection, suppression and response capabilities across the Carnival fleet.

Cahill noted that the Splendor's Feb. 20 sailing was full. The 3,006-passenger ship resumes sailing seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises out of Long Beach.
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