When a fire occurs on a cruise ship, it typically begins in an engine room. In October 2015, for example, a fire erupted in an engine room of Royal Caribbean's Splendour of the Seas. The ship's fire-suppression system was activated, the blaze was quickly extinguished, and all passengers and crew were safe.
The engine rooms of most modern ships are designed with fire-suppression systems, but the most effective of these only works if no crew is present. If other means of fire suppression—releasing a water mist, for example—are insufficient, CO2 can be discharged into the affected compartments, which then become inhospitable to anyone caught inside. Crew members in charge of activating the CO2 suppression system conduct a manual headcount to check that everyone is clear of danger before releasing the gas.
Princess Cruises is one brand in Carnival's Holland America Group. "The manual accounting of personnel is still there," explains Piero Susino, the technical operations director of Holland America's Princess Cruises division. However, he adds, the RFID system provides quick, additional verification to keep the crew safe from CO2, saving time that otherwise would have to be spent manually verifying the initial headcount with an additional count.
In a parallel development, in 2013, Martec also became a member of the MonaLisa 2.0 project, funded by the European Union, which sought to improve maritime safety and efficiency through technology development. Martec had joined as part of MonaLisa's 2.0's Safer Ships program, led by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and specifically focused on shipboard safety. All Martec and Safer Ships needed now was a commercial partner to further the development work that Martec had begun with the Navy.
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