Sunday, September 18, 2011

Norway's Boiler Explosion

Steam powered many of the great ocean liners and gave them their terrific speed. If not handled properly, however, it can prove fatally tragic.

May 25, 2003 saw a deadly boiler explosion aboard the SS Norway (ex-France) that ultimately killed eight crew members and seriously injured an additional ten. The accident happened early in the morning at Florida's Port of Miami. Norway had just returned from a cruise and docked when the boiler ruptured.

The ship's owner - Norwegian Cruise Lines - was charged with gross negligence by federal prosecutors. They pleaded guilty. An investigation found that the accident could have been easily prevented: Norway's boilers were old, cracked and leaky by the time of the explosion. Repairs had been made over the years, but they were shoddily done and unsafe. The ship's busy schedule also added strain to the aging boilers.

Norway was subsequently taken out of service and laid up in Germany for a time. She was ultimately sold for scrap and broken up at Alang, India like so many other ships.

References: "NCL pleads guilty to 'gross negligence' in Norway explosion," The Miami Herald, May 3, 2008.

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