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Coast Guard: Caribbean Fantasy Failed Fire Safety Inspections Three Years In A Row

Caribbean Fantasy 2


SAN JUAN — A salvage team towed the still-smoldering Caribbean Fantasy to the main harbor in Puerto Rico after the U.S. Coast Guard had approved a towage plan early Saturday morning.

The Coast Guard published a video of the vessel being towed as well as photographs of the fire, fire fighting efforts and evacuation of the ferry which can be seen in pictures.

One photo clearly shows that the exterior paint on the ferry had been scorched and was buckling and peeling from the intense heat.

The Coast Guard reported that the Puerto Rico Fire Department finally extinguished the fire on the
passenger ferry using 3,000 gallons of seawater from the San Juan Harbor around 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The Caribbean Fantasy has a poor inspection record. According to a report today in the MarineLog publication, according to the Equasis data base, a whopping 10.53% of the ferry’s inspections in the past 3 years have led to detentions. According to MarineLog:

“A U.S. Coast Guard inspection in San Juan earlier this month found four deficiencies related to fire safety measures and one related to the propulsion and auxiliary machinery. None was severe enough to warrant detention of the vessel.

The most recent detention recorded in the Equasis data base was in Gibraltar in July this year and was for six days and related to deficiencies related to the auxiliary engines.

In October of last year, the vessel was detained in San Juan for three days by the U.S. Coast Guard for three deficiencies related: fire safety measures (international shore connection); crew certificates (certificates of competency) and ship’s certificates and documents (safety manning document).”

We previously reported that according to gCaptain, the description of the fire prevention deficiency reads:

“The condition of the ship and its equipment shall be maintained to conform with the provisions of the present regulations to ensure that the ship in all respects will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons onboard. In the engineering spaces, PSCO found deck plates slippery and surfaces coated with an oily layer. Oil was seeping form machinery and all bilge surfaces had a 1″ thick layer of oil; bilge pockets were full creating a fire hazard.”

The Coast Guard said a plan to identify and dispose of potentially hazardous as well as non-hazardous waste is being developed. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Firefighting teams accessed the engine room Saturday morning and found a single contained source of fire remaining, the Coast Guard said.

There was no significant damage to the ferry’s hull and no signs of pollution coming from the vessel.

The 561-foot (171-meter) ferry was traveling from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico when it caught fire Wednesday and forced the evacuation of more than 500 passengers and crew members.

More than two dozen people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, dehydration and shock. Two passengers suffered broken bones.

A casualty investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) RINA Services and the country of registration, Panama.


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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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