SARGE: It Ain’t No Carnival

The passengers of the Carnival Cruise Ship “Triumph” have helped the ship to define its name. It was truly a triumph of the human spirit and will to conquer the travails of a cruise from hell. The ship was fully involved in a cruise when a fire broke out destroying the electrical systems and collaterally the pumps working to keep over 400 passengers from a hygiene nightmare.

The nightmare became real as food freezers stopped functioning, toilets stopped working and air conditioning no longer operated. It was a “fail” of epic proportions. Everybody suffered the ignominious failure never suggested in the brochures promising balmy breezes, stops at exotic ports-of-call and great entertainment presented in the lounges and ballrooms of the massive ship.

These ships are huge. Their shadows rival those of some modern aircraft carrier sans the jet fighters. The complexity of their electrical, steam and sanitation systems is arguable better than some cities across the world. But, they’re not infallible.

The most dangerous thing feared by sailors is fire at sea. You have to fight the fire and win; every time. There are no “small” fires on board a ship. In the days of sailing ships, a “small” fire could blossom into an inferno burning the hull and riggings to the point of uselessness if not total destruction. It was my fear as a young sailor, after they showed me the horrible movies of Damage Control men valiantly fighting shipboard fires in World War II, that the ship I was billeted on would suffer such a disaster. The U.S.S. Enterprise was nearly sunk by massive fires started after an explosive ordnance ignition on deck. As I say there’s no place to go; you must endure the unimaginable.

The folks on the “Triumph” are heroes in a way. They endured. They transcended and overcame the limits of anything anybody could ever encounter in a “normal” life.

But, soon Carnival Cruise Lines may suffer a flock of lawsuits to rival any disaster. The reason this will probably occur is they’re offering the aggrieved passengers a whopping $500.00, a refund and a coupon for a future crews. Would you like to return to a company made you live in your own waste for almost a week? People were advised to defecate in toilets until they overflowed. They then were required to “do it” (both solid and fluid waste disposal) then place the waste in plastic bags to be set outside their rooms in the passageways. Needless to say waste piled up and bags ruptured or lost containment integrity. The smell was horrible. The chances of disease rose.

Somebody said people have short memories. Another asked: can they sue? The answer is yes: because Carnival may have been grossly negligent in their care and upkeep of the “physical plants” (working systems and equipment) necessary to provide services. Preventive Maintenance Systems failed.

Shipboard systems are complex. The redundancy factor should ensure back-up systems complement each other. When one fails, another should bypass and take over the operation. That’s the way it should be. In this case there was a catastrophic “fail” of all systems mechanical and human.

Cruise ships cost billions of dollars to build, operate and maintain. They’re inhabited by constantly changing crews. Labor forces are normally temporary with continual personnel changes happening.

But most importantly, the schedule of the ship may be the cause of the problem. Have you ever seen a cruise ship in dry-dock?  They must be afloat and cruising at least four days out of seven. This is expected otherwise the profit margin plummets. The failure to regularly shut-down and maintain the essential services for regular maintenance is possibly the cause of these system failures. And that’s going to cause a major financial problem if somebody, someday dies as a result of these failures. The failure to maintain is the most dangerous problem.

This cruise was no Carnival.

“Sailing, sailing walking around the pee. Where many a poo-poo bag shall blow, as we sit dead at sea.

Sailing, sailing never more to cruise, it ain’t no carnival out here, they’ll never pay what’s due!”

Thanks for listening.



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