Fire-damaged cruise ship towed for repairs

Kyodo

The Diamond Princess, a luxury cruise ship damaged in an Oct. 1 fire while still being outfitted, was towed Monday to a second Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. dock for repairs, the company said.

At around 9 a.m., the 113,000-ton vessel, with the upper part of its white hull blackened, was towed to the firm’s Koyagi docks, located about 5 km south of the site of the fire at MHI’s Nagasaki shipyard.

“The new ship has unfortunately become a ship to be repaired,” said 67-year-old Toshio Yoshinaga, who used to work for a former subcontractor of MHI’s Nagasaki shipyard and was watching the towing operation being carried out from a hill on the opposite shore.

“I guess the damage is big, but I hope that (after the repairs) it will return as a snow-white ship again.”

According to MHI’s Nagasaki shipyard, the Koyagi shipyard has two docks, one for 500,000-ton ships and one for 1-million ton vessels.

Repairs will be carried out at the smaller of the docks unless larger cranes are deemed necessary.

The Diamond Princess, which will be one of the largest luxury liners in the world, is 290 meters long, 41.5 meters wide and can accommodate 3,100 passengers.

The ship had been docked at the Nagasaki shipyard for interior work after being launched in May. The 36-hour fire gutted 50,300 sq. meters, or 40 percent of the total floor space of the 14-deck liner.

All 1,000 or so workers aboard at the time of the fire escaped unhurt.

MHI and P&O Princess Cruises PLC, the Britain-based owner of the ship, agreed Oct. 10 to continue work on the cruise liner despite the damage.

Police are investigating the fire and have yet to conclude if it was accidental or arson.