The Financial Times claimed the shipyard in Monfalcone was first informed at the end of May that the supplier, Helsinki-based Paroc, had lost its safety certification for one type of panel. Paroc later informed Fincantieri that a second type of panel had also lost its approval.
Explora I was scheduled to set sail at the end of May, but this was pushed back to July 17 and later to August 1. The naming of the ship, the first in the Explora Journeys fleet, had been due to take place in Civitavecchia on July 8.
Fincantieri confirmed the problem came to light on Wednesday, and that on the same day it agreed with MSC Group to delay the delivery of the ship ‘by a few weeks to make further enhancements’ to the vessel.
New York-listed Owens Corning, Paroc’s parent company, relayed to Seatrade Cruise that Paroc ‘recently became aware of concerns related to one of its insulation products exclusively serving the marine industry’ and that it is 'working with customers and regulatory authorities to address any potential risks arising from their use.'
Aug. 1 maiden voyage
‘Explora Journeys was only recently made aware before the delivery of Explora I of an issue that some materials used on the ship did not meet the required safety certifications,’ Explora Journeys told Seatrade Cruise News. ‘As the safety of our guests and crew is of the utmost priority we took the immediate and responsible decision not to take delivery, even though this meant that we had to cancel the ship’s first sailing to ensure she can be delivered with the highest safety standards and will have all appropriate safety certifications in place.’
Explora went on to add that it is ‘working tirelessly’ with Fincantieri to replace the affected materials immediately to ensure the safety and compliance of the ship. The work is underway, the line added, plus ‘the shipbuilder is discussing with the relevant classification societies to obtain the ship's safety certificate as soon as possible, so that she will be ready for delivery on July 24 and her first sailing on August 1 from Copenhagen.’
MSC Cruises and Chantiers de L’Atlantique are currently measuring which actions, if any, will need to be taken when it comes to MSC Euribia. ‘Other ships afloat with the same insulation tiles are not automatically implicated,’ the cruise line said, ‘however our other shipbuilder, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, is working with the classification society and maritime industry experts to analyse the situation for MSC Euribia in detail and performing the necessary tests, and we will then develop any necessary action plans if required...’
Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku are not affected.
Carnival Corp & plc
A Carnival Corporation & plc spokesperson informed Seatrade Cruise News, ‘The materials and equipment onboard all our ships comply with all necessary certifications, laws and regulations that govern our business. That includes the A60 insulation manufactured by Paroc that was installed on one ship in our fleet and passed all required certifications at the time of installation and met all SOLAS standards at delivery.’
The spokesperson continued, ‘We are aware Paroc insulation materials failed to meet standards in a recent test. While we have seen no indication of any issues with the insulation actually installed on our ships, we are looking into the test results and discussing them with the relevant flag state regulators and authorities ... It is important to note that our global fleet is equipped with advanced fire detection and suppression systems – with built-in redundancy for added security – to mitigate risk in the unlikely event of a fire.’
Carnival Corp. went on to state it ‘will take whatever action necessary’ to ensure the continued safety and security of passengers and crew.
Royal Caribbean Group told Seatrade Cruise News it is ‘aware of concerns involving a third-party vendor and are working diligently to assess if there are any impacts to our fleet.’ They described the safety of passengers and crew as ‘top priority,’ noting, ‘We will continue to ensure we meet and exceed all safety and compliance standards, and if necessary, will take immediate corrective action.’
More cruise ships affected
The FT noted 45 ships globally have been identified by Paroc as affected by the safety fault. Out of these, the precise number of cruise ships is yet to be confirmed.
Cruise Lines International Association said its member cruise lines ‘are confident that concerns are being addressed by the responsible parties, and they remain vigilant in monitoring of all safety systems to degrees that often exceed that of other industries and maritime requirements.’
Update adds further information from MSC Cruises, Carnival Corp & plc, Royal Caribbean Group and Cruise Lines International Association.