The Caribbean Fantasy which caught fire earlier this week off Puerto Rico was detained by the U.S. Coast Guard last October over three safety violations including one related to its fire prevention systems, Coast Guard records show.
The Panama-flagged car and passenger ferry, managed by Baja Ferries SA, caught fire earlier this week while en route from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, leading to the full evacuation of all 511 passengers and crew by the Coast Guard and other vessels. The ship later ran aground about a half a mile off of Punta Salinas, where it remains as of right now. An update from the Coast Guard Friday morning said the fire was still active, as crews try attempt to board the vessel to assess the damage.
The fire is believed to have started in the ship’s engine room and spread to other compartments of the ship.
According to Coast Guard records, the Caribbean Fantasy was detained in Puerto Rico last October over three deficiencies related to the ship’s fire prevention and certificates. The description of the fire prevention deficiency reads:
The condition of the ship and its equipment shall be maintained to conform with the provisions of the present regulations to ensure that the ship in all respects will remain fit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship or persons onboard. In the engineering spaces, PSCO found deck plates slippery and surfaces coated with an oily layer. Oil was seeping form machinery and all bilge surfaces had a 1″ thick layer of oil; bilge pockets were full creating a fire hazard.
So far the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The Panama Maritime Authority has sent a team to Puerto Rico to investigate the incident. Meanwhile, a Unified Command continues to respond to the incident.
The Caribbean Fantasy Response Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and Baja Ferries (owner of the Caribbean Fantasy).