Boiler Room Fire Forces Cruise Ship to Return to Port

An Alaska-bound cruise ship that sailed from the port of Seattle returned temporarily because of a fire in one of its boiler rooms last weekend.

The MS Westerdam, an 82,348 ton passenger ship owned by the Holland America cruise line, left Seattle’s port at 4 p.m. on June 28. At around 5:15 p.m., the Westerdam reversed course because of what the company categorized as “a small fire in one of the boiler rooms.”

According to local media reports, the Westerdam was in Puget Sound near Kingston, Washington when the fire started in one of the boiler rooms. The crew managed to douse the fire, but it reignited several moments later.

Crewmembers extinguished the boiler room fire with a combination of hoses and the Westerdam’s automatic high-pressure mist system. As a precautionary measure, the city of Seattle sent one of its fireboats and several land units to the cruise terminal at Pier 91. In addition, port authorities sent a tug to help the Westerdam during its return to Seattle.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with the United States Coast Guard the ship has returned to Seattle.  The ship is fully operational and there has been no impact on guest services,” a Holland America press statement read.

There were 2,086 passengers and 798 passengers aboard at the time of the fire. Per the Seattle Fire Department, there was no evacuation and there were no injuries to passengers or crew.

Fortunately, a crew was able to repair the damage to the boiler room. The U.S. Coast Guard and representatives of Lloyd’s Registry conducted a safety inspection shortly after. The Coast Guard then cleared the ship to continue its passage to Alaska on Sunday.

Due to the ship’s delayed departure from Seattle, Holland America changed the Westerdam’s 7-day itinerary. A scheduled port visit to Sitka was canceled, and the company gave passengers a credit of $250 per room to use during the cruise.

The incident aboard the Westerdam comes 18 months after the infamous “Cruise from Hell” of February 2013. The Carnival Triumph was left without power after a fire broke out in the ship’s engine room during a cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Though no one was killed during the five-day ordeal, over 3,000 passengers and 1086  endured harrowing conditions, including poor sanitary conditions, unbearable heat, and concerns about contaminated food.

Other cruise ship fires have had lethal consequences. In August of 1984, a fire aboard the Scandinavian Sun broke out as the ship was returning to Miami from a one-day cruise to the Bahamas. One passenger and one crew member died from smoke inhalation as a result of the blaze, which started in the ship’s engine room.

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