Coastguards say major safety concerns led to cruise ship detention

//Coastguards say major safety concerns led to cruise ship detention

Serious breaches of international safety regulations led to the detention of cruise ship MSC Opera in Southampton last week, according to further details released today by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Spokeswoman Rosie Tapping told USA Today’s Gene Sloan there were a number of issues which together “led to the conclusion of a major non-conformity.”
There were concerns that the ship was overloaded and, as a result, fears for its stability.
Tapping told me: “Overloading means that the vessel is floating at a deeper draft than it has been approved for in terms of structural strength and stability. Most people will be familiar with the Plimsoll Line which is circle and cross bar mark seen on the side of sea-going ships; this indicates the maximum draft that the vessel is approved for.
“If the mark is submerged, the vessel is considered overloaded. The big variable weights on cruise ships are the fluids such as fuel, freshwater, sewage and ballast and it is a continuous process to manage these to ensure the vessel stays within the draft limits.”
Other problems addressed during the two days the ship was detained included emergency preparedness and violations of the International Safety Maritime Code which provides for the safe management and operation of ships, and for pollution prevention.
MSC Opera, arrived in Southampton last Wednesday after repairs undertaken at a Polish shipyard following an electrical breakdown in the Baltic Sea. The 1,800-passenger vessel, built in 2004, was left drifting after the incident, and was towed into a Swedish port.
Passengers who spent two days with limited light, cold food and non-functioning toilets, were flown home to the UK. One cruise was cancelled in order for the repairs to be carried out, and a number of UK travel agents were invited on board during its extended stay in Southampton. The ship will be sailing from the UK throughout the summer.
When news of the detention became public on Friday, MSC Cruises dismissed it as “a rumour” and later issued a statement which said: “MSC Cruises is delighted to announce that MSC Opera left Southampton today to begin her eight-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords,” the statement said. “Docked at the port of Southampton since May 25th, MSC Opera was visited, as per standard procedure, by Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) staff and released as fully compliant with International maritime safety regulations.”
The MCA spokeswoman could not say whether a further inspection of the ship was planned when it returns to Southampton on Saturday.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:06+00:00 1 June 2011|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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