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Accidents and the lessons learned


Fire in sight of safety: Morro Castle 1934

The US passenger ship Morro Castle was approaching New York on her regular route from Cuba in the Carribean, on 8th September 1934 when she caught fire, just six miles (ten kilometres) off the coast of New Jersey. By the time she had been beached [ definition], 133 lives had been lost and the Morro Castle was just a gutted, blackened wreck.

The response to disasters like that of the Morro Castle has been to build ships in which fire is less likely to break out and spread and to ensure that, if it does, it is detected early. Fireproof doors and bulkheads [definition ] are built into the hull. Smoke alarms and heat detectors are placed at key points. Sprinkler systems are installed which automatically turn themselves on if fire is detected. Cabin fittings, especially, are made of fireproof materials.

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