The fire on the MV Azamara Quest, is one of a recent series of disabling fires and power failures on diesel-electric powered cruise ships. Unlike the MV Azamara Quest, however, the ship’s crews aboard the Costa Allegra, the Carnival Splendor, and the MSC Opera were unable to effect repairs to the ships’ propulsion system. These ships remained blacked out and needed to be towed to port. A brief summary of recent electrical failures on cruise ships:
On May14, 2011, an electrical on failure on the cruise ship MSC Opera cruising in the Baltic, blacked out the ship leaving her drifting for almost three days before tugs arrived and towed her into the Swedish port of Nynashamn near Stockholm.
On November 8, 2010, a fire in the engine room on the Carnival Splendor while cruising in the Pacific off Mexico blacked out the ship and left her drifting without power for four days until she could be towed to San Diego.
An explosion and fire in the aft harmonic filter room on board RMS Queen Mary 2 while approaching Barcelona on September 23, 2010, knocked out power and propulsion to the ship for approximately an hour. While the loss of power was relatively short, as the ship was in shipping channels approaching a busy port, the consequences could have been serious.
All ships with the exception of the Costa Allegra are less than ten years old.
Diesel-electric powered cruise ships use medium speed diesel engines which drive generators which provide electric power to the motors which drive the ship’s propellers as well as providing electricity for the hotel needs of the ship. There are usually between four and six diesel engines in two engine rooms which should provide considerable redundancy in case of a fire or other emergency. Based on recent casualties, however, this does not seem to be the case. The exception, so far has been the MV Azamara Quest, where it now appears that a fire in one engine room did not wholly disable the ship.