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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 June, 2004, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Urgent safety work starts on QM2
Queen Mary 2
The Queen Mary 2 is the largest passenger ship ever built
The world's biggest luxury liner has arrived in its home port with just hours to put right fire safety rule breaches revealed by a BBC probe.

The Marine and Coastguard Agency has told Cunard to fit extra sprinklers in the Queen Mary 2's 1,300 cabins.

Extra smoke detectors are to be fitted in the cabins before the liner sails to New York from Southampton this evening.

The BBC investigation led to tests which revealed material used in many of the cabins was too flammable.

Each passenger on board has received a letter from Cunard reassuring them that the ship, which was launched in January and cost 500m to build, is safe.

Clearly the tests today have proven that the material does not come up to the standard
Alan Fairney
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Passengers disembarking from the QM2, which arrived in Southampton at 0530 BST on Friday, seemed happy with the liner's safety standards.

Bill Carroll, from St George, Utah, said: "I didn't have any qualms. I think they are making a mountain out of a molehill."

The alert is over the use of material in the majority of the ship's bathroom units which does not meet international fire safety regulations for marine use.

Tests carried out on Thursday morning by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on two samples taken from the ship confirmed concerns first raised by a manufacturer in the Czech Republic.

Increased patrols

Alan Fairney, of the MCA, said: "Clearly the tests today have proven that the material does not come up to the standard.

"We have taken immediate action in conjunction with Cunard and agreed that sprinklers will be fitted in the bathrooms.

"Smoke detection is being fitted adjacent to the bathrooms and the fire patrols have been increased to every 15 minutes."

Eric Flounders, Cunard's spokesman, said extra staff had been drafted in to ensure that the smoke alarms would be fitted in time for the sailing at 1800 BST.

He said: "Work has started and this will be completed in time."

Work to fit additional sprinklers in the bathrooms will be made simpler because each cabin already has a sprinkler in place.

It is feared the ship may contain as much as 65,000 kg of the material causing concern.

Have you been on board the Queen Mary 2? Did you think it was safe? Are they doing enough to ensure safety? Send us your experiences.

Your comments

My wife and I sailed in the QM2 on May 1, Southampton to New York. The ship is spectacular. We had had complete confidence in the safety of the vessel in all respects.
Frank Trumbour, Ridgewood, USA

I found the ship in excellent condition and it appeared to have good safety systems. It looks as if Cunard is sorting out the fire safety problem - but surely the ship is still under guarantee and costs will be met by the builder? Having sailed twice this year on QM2 I would have no hesitation booking again.
John, Dumfries, Scotland

Everywhere else in the world that she visits give her a fantastic welcome
David, York

I find it very sad that the UK press seems to have nothing but negative things to say about this outstanding vessel. Everywhere else in the world that she visits give her a fantastic welcome and I find it sad that press in her flag country do nothing but put her down. She is a wonderful achievement that we should all be proud of.
David, York

I was on the QM2 on Jewels of Iberia cruise and I didn't think there were any flammable materials in the bathroom! The only time I felt the ship was unsafe was when the large number of police and military were patrolling the areas around the ship when in dock due to the ship being a possible terrorist target. I found the ship to be amazing in so many different ways with service which was impeccable, although we were in Grill accommodation. I did hear a number of complaints about the main restaurant though.
Ben Larrive, Southampton, United Kingdom

I was on QM2 two months ago and felt everything was in fine order. Crew and staff are well trained and QM2 is a fine product.
Peter Menken, New York City, NY

I went on this boat for 2 weeks in May and I must say that it was as safe as houses.
Ben LeGrand, Nottingham, UK

Sailed in May to Med. Service appalling in restaurant, nobody admits shortcomings. Not aware of any safety defects but passengers would not be looking for items BBC discovered. Would not recommend ship until management deal with problems.
Brian Hasler, Reading, UK

Of course fire at sea is horrifying but the bathrooms seemed perfectly safe to me. I was on the 'Jewels of Iberia' cruise in May. I had a wonderful time.
C. Telford, Cheshire, UK

I have been on this magnificent cruise liner as my husband works on her. I felt 100% safe on it and I feel this negative press is all about scaremongering. If it was so important then why wasn't it reported earlier? She has been at sea for a while now and maybe they had their reasons not to fit sprinklers in the bathrooms as it's a place that gets wet!
Sarah, London

We just returned this past Sunday from an 8 day trip and the ship was great. We did have one medical emergency and one passenger lost overboard - but the ship and the crew were outstanding during the entire trip.
Larry, Chattanooga, USA

How can these ex-passengers say "everything seemed OK to me" and the like? We are talking about installations manufactured from resins with inadequate fire retardation. Of course everything looks fine. You'd only notice the difference in a ship fire. If the French yard specified resins that do not meet legal standards, as appears to be the case from the Polish documentation, I would have thought the ship should be returned to the yard as unsuitable for the purpose it was sold, and the French should replace all the bathrooms free of charge and pay compensation for loss of earnings.
John A, London UK

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The BBC's Robert Hall
"One of the fastest safety upgrades ever"

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