Cruise Ship Accidents, Cruise Ship Law, International Maritime

Dubai Maritime City Authority Conducts Fire Drill Onboard Serenade of the Seas to Gauge Cruise Ship Safety


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Cruise ship safety is a concern industry-wide, not just in the United States. Following a string of maritime accidents beginning with the Carnival Triumph’s cruise ship fire earlier this month, several other mechanical malfunctions, cruise ship rape incidents and other injuries have been reported on a back-to-back basis it seems. Improving shipboard safety is a top priority for maritime agencies, but it seems that with every year that goes by, ships are becoming larger and more susceptible for equipment trouble or other accidents, while the safety protocols are becoming more lax by the minute.

The Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire brought to light the dire need to provide for a backup safety mechanism on vessels to ensure ships keep functioning in the event a fire breaks out. Due to the lack of emergency backup equipment, the Triumph was completely disabled and was towed back to the United States after becoming stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers had to suffer through dire conditions, including toilets that were not working as well as overflowing waste and sewage. When a cruise ship loses power and sanitation becomes a problem, everyone onboard the vessel is placed at risk for contracting serious, if not life-threatening sicknesses, as well as are at risk for serious accidents and crimes to take place.

As the U.S. Coast Guard, International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other industry agencies work toward improving safety protocols fleet-wide, across the world, a Dubai government agency is working on making cruise ships safer for everyone who boards them.

The Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA), the authority overseeing the maritime sector in the nation, has conducted a fire drill onboard a large cruise ship docked in nation to test the vessel’s ability to fight and contain cruise ship fires.

The agency’s Cruise Ship Emergency Response Task Force conducted a full mock fire exercise onboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Serenade of the Seas to gauge emergency procedures and prevent further accidents or chaos in the event of an emergency.

The Serenade of the Seas is home ported in Dubai’s Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal during cruise season. Because of its large size and carrying capacity of 3,000 guests and 1,000 crewmembers, the DMCA chose this vessel in order to determine the exact ability of larger cruise ships to respond to emergency maritime fire incidents, as well as to improve fire procedures and cooperation between both public and private parties to improve maritime safety and security.

In a statement issued this weekend, the DMCA explained that the drill simulated a fire in one of the ship’s large tender boats, which are used as tenders to transport cruise passengers between the ship and a port, as well as can be used as lifeboats. The boats can hold up to 200 people, and if something were to go wrong, hundreds of lives would be placed at risk.

Captain Anders, the Serenade’s Master, agreed with the DMCA’s safety exercise and believes it should be repeated frequently to preserve maritime safety.

“This was a good exercise for all of us and it should be repeated at least once a year,” said the Captain.

Amer Ali, Executive Director, Dubai Maritime City Authority, also issued a statement on the importance of maritime safety for all cruise passengers and crew who dock in Dubai.

“The safety and security of guests and crew of ships berthed in Dubai are of utmost priority for us. DMCA is therefore constantly working with the industry on various initiatives such as fire drills and other exercises to further enhance emergency procedures, collaboration and coordination with Dubai’s Civil Defence team and the other emergency responders,” explained Ali.

Ali also noted that the DMCA will continue to work with the cruise ship industry as well as other maritime organizations to promote safety and improved emergency response.

“The drill we conducted with the cruise ship ‘Serenade of the Seas’ highlighted the cohesiveness of the Cruise Ship Emergency Response Task Force and the high level of preparedness of the ship’s staff and the shoreside support stakeholders,” added Ali. “DMCA will continue to proactively introduce initiatives that will further broaden our understanding and expertise in dealing with various emergency situations, while helping to reaffirm the status of Dubai as a genuinely safe and secure cruise ship destination.”

The fire drill is just one of several DMCA maritime initiatives launched to examine the level of communications protocols onboard cruise ships in hopes of identifying which areas need work so safety and protection in the maritime sector can be improved.

Along with the DMCA, other agencies were also involved in the drill, including the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), Civil Defence; Immigration; Dubai Police, Dubai Rescue Police; Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Ports Authority (DPA); Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation; Dubai Ports World, and the private sector, including the ship’s agents.

The need to improve maritime safety has reached a critical level. With accidents happening left and right on the high seas, it is important for any passenger or crewmember who has been injured, assaulted, been the target of a crime, or been denied proper medical care to understand they have a right to seek legal help with a maritime accident lawyer.

Here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina, and Winkleman, P.A., we work diligently to help cruise accident victims obtain justice for their pain and suffering. Our attorneys work together with organizations, including the International Cruise Victims Association (ICV), to promote maritime safety and assist victims with their accident cases. Hopefully the cruise industry will make the necessary changes to improve safety fleet-wide in the very near future so tragedies on the high seas can be prevented.

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