A fire that began with an unsupervised cutting and welding operation
resulted in serious damage to the mooring deck of a cruise ship within
minutes after getting underway for a Caribbean cruise.
to utilize proper cutting and welding procedures and the delayed discovery
of the fire on the mooring deck led to damage throughout the aft portion
of the ship. The prompt action of the ship’s fire brigade limited damage
to a single vertical zone.
20, 1998, a fire occurred on the passenger cruise ship "Ecstasy,"
as the ship was beginning a four-day trip to Cozumel, Mexico from the
Port of Miami, Florida. This fire resulted in injuries to 60 people,
including both passengers and crewmembers. At the time of the incident
the ship was carrying 2557 passengers and 920 crewmembers.
was constructed in 1990 in Finland and refurbished in 1995. The ship
was 260.6 m (855 ft) in length and 31.7 m (104 ft) wide with a draught
of 8 m (26 ft). The ship’s gross tonnage was 62,827.7 metric tons (70,367
tons). The vessel had a top speed of 40.7 km/h (22 knots) and was powered
by two diesel- electric engines.
contained 10 accommodation and entertainment decks, which housed a combination
of passenger cabins and entertainment areas (i.e., casinos, nightclubs),
as well as numerous dining areas. Most mechanical spaces were located
on the lower three decks of the ship, with equipment closets and chases
scattered throughout the ship.
mooring deck, where the majority of the fire damage occurred, was located
on Deck 4 (Riviera Deck). There was a similar mooring area in the forward
portion of the ship on Deck 6 (Upper Deck). The mooring decks contained
the large electric winches that controlled several hundred feet of mooring
lines. The mooring lines consisted of polypropylene rope of approximately
63.5 mm (2-1/2 in) diameter.
area, where the fire is reported to have started, is located on Deck
2, forward of the freshwater tanks. The laundry area consisted of washing
and drying machines and associated pressing and folding equipment.
personnel were conducting repairs on a pressing and folding machine
(referred to as a “mangle”) in the laundry room, an arc from a welding
rod reportedly ignited combustible lint in and around the machine. Attempts
to extinguish the initial fire were unsuccessful as personnel were driven
from the laundry area by smoke. As personnel were exiting the area the
laundry room manager activated the fire alarm.
began to spread to the decks above and below the laundry area. Reports
and alarms were initially received for smoke on Deck Nos. 1 through
5. Upon investigation by fire brigade members, smoke and fire was discovered
on the aft mooring deck (Deck 4).
fire brigade was called upon and began to deploy to the aft portion
of the ship. The brigade members closed fire doors and monitored the
conditions in the deck areas surrounding the laundry room and the mooring
deck. An intense fire was discovered on the aft mooring deck, apparently
fueled by pallets of polypropylene rope. As the fire on the mooring
deck grew in intensity, thick black smoke was seen billowing from the
rear of the ship. This smoke became visible to United States Coast Guard
cameras at the Port of Miami as well as residents of the Miami Beach
area. The Coast Guard contacted the ship’s captain at 5:30 p.m. and
asked about the smoke condition. At that point the captain indicated
that the crew was controlling the fire and they needed no further assistance.
Approximately 30 minutes later, the captain contacted the Coast Guard
to request assistance.
and other fire-fighting vessels were dispatched to the ship’s location,
now about five kilometers (2.7 miles) northeast of Miami Beach. In the
meantime the ship had lost control of propulsion systems and began to
drift northward. The Coast Guard and private assistance began arriving
between 6:00 and 6:25 p.m.
of the ship’s fire brigade and the fire-fighting vessels brought the
fire under control around 7:15 p.m. The vessel was then towed back to
the Port of Miami and arrived at 2:20 a.m. on July 21, 1998. Once in
port, those passengers and crewmembers that required further medical
attention were transported to local hospitals. The injuries included
smoke inhalation and chest pains. Seven were hospitalized overnight
and another two remained in the hospital for an additional day for observation.
was centered on the aft mooring deck (4), the thruster equipment room
on Deck 1, the dry goods storage area on Deck 3, and the aft portion
of the Main deck (5). Smoke and water damage was experienced throughout
the aft portion of the ship on all decks. Sprinklers activated on Decks
3 through 7.
was moored in the Port of Miami for four days while the investigation
was conducted. The ship left on Friday July 24, 1998, under its own
power and sailed to Newport News, Virginia, where extensive repairs
were completed. The ship was placed back into service on September 18,
basis of the fire investigation and analysis, the NFPA has determined
that the following factors directly contributed to the fire:
and welding without proper precautions
in discovery of the fire on the mooring deck
of fire spread through ventilation ducts containing lint and dust
version of the report will be available through the on-line NFPA Catalog
of the report will be available through the NFPA Library at 617-984-7445
summary will be available on the NFPA web site on July 14, 2000 at: