Larger Vessels, New Safety Challenges

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Millions of peoples have safely sailed on cruise ships over the decades, as the cruise industry giants vie for prestige and passengers, demands for comfort, space, coupled with economies of scale, mean that the quest for size is likely to continue in this buoyant sector of the shipping industry. So many things distinguish cruise ships from other ship types, whereas, for instance, container ships are built in response to their owners’ perceptions of the market’s requirement, cruise ship owners create a concept and then, set out, to sell it, scaling the boundaries of convention in terms of their concept, their design and their sheer size, ships such as the Royal Caribbean’s flagship “Voyager of the Seas” is no ordinary ship, at 142,000 gross tons, she currently holds the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, with a carrying capacity of nearly 5000 crew and passengers, nearly the population of a small town, embracing the concept of “the ship is the destination”.
There is no cause for special concern, by and large the overall safety record is good, but it cannot be denied that a number of incidents in recent years have indicated the vulnerability of these ships, a vital concern for passenger ship designers and operators., modern cruise giants with power installation capable of providing 25-knots enables them to dodge the weather, but they are particularly vulnerable to fire, every passenger is a potential ignition source and the hotel services clearly have an inherent risk, in the event of a casualty the difficulty in safely evacuating some passengers such as the elderly and injured to lifeboats to rescue vessels, thousands of people unfamiliar with ships and the sea crowded into lifeboats and life rafts would present a unique search and rescue challenge, future large ships should be crew, equipped and designed for improved survivability so that in the event of a casualty, persons can remain safely on board as the ship proceeds to port.

With a view to ensuring continuing confidence in the cruise shipping industry and the trend towards dramatic increase in the size of passenger vessels in recent times, it is timely to consider whether the existing SOLAS regulations, drafted with smaller ships in mind, are appropriate to the latest large ships.
– Darryl Rosario Release,
(with inputs from : IMO )

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