Friday, December 10, 2010

Fire Safety

Fire is the worst disaster that a ship can face next to sinking. Increasingly high safety standards have limited the number of accidents, but the threat is still a very real one. Not even a Cunard Queen is immune, as demonstrated by the fiery and tragic demise of the original Queen Elizabeth (which had recently been sold and renamed the SS Seawise University) on January 9, 1972.

Tragedy could have also fallen on her successor, the Queen Elizabeth 2. The new ship had been built according to both British and American safety regulations, which meant that she was extensively fire-proofed and had the best in fire suppression technology. The QE2 was built to be one of the safest ships afloat.

In 1976, an engine room erupted and ultimately knocked out one of the liner's boilers. This forced QE2 to limp back into port at Southampton, where it was clear to all that something had happened. The liner's distinctive white funnel had been blackened as a result of the blaze.

The faulty boiler was eventually replaced and the QE2 resumed her work. Had it not been for her high safety standards, she may have followed her older sister to Valhalla only four years later.

References: David F. Hutchings, QE2: A Ship For All Seasons (Dorset: Waterfront Publications, 1993), 40-41.

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