Lessons from the Doomsday Ship


The Carnival Triumph finally made it to land after being dead in the water for 5 long days. The 4,000 passengers that had hoped to leave their worries behind learned a new appreciation for their mundane lives at home. A fire on board the ship brought electrical capacities to a standstill. The lack of electricity in turn disabled the plumbing pumps. Passengers were left without any comforts. There was no air-conditioning, no cold storage for food, no means of cooking the food that was quickly spoiling without refrigeration and sewage pumps were completely out of service. Passengers were forced to relieve themselves in red  bio-hazard bags while feces and urine backed up and flooded the ship.

Many of the passengers made a tent city on the deck of the ship out of bed sheets. This allowed them to be in the open air to escape the putrid smells of human waste. Carnival announced that the passengers would receive a full refund as well as $500 compensation and discounts on future trips. That comes out to $100 a day for living in a rancid floating toilet, wading through the human excrement of 4,000 people to get in a 3 hour line to get an onion sandwich. Or $4.16 an hour for a living nightmare where people were fighting over food. I suppose the passengers should be grateful, that is nearly 4 times what Carnival pays their Filipino and Indian workforce. According to Corpwatch, they earn approximately $1.20 per hour.

What lessons can we learn?

Besides the lesson that things can get really bad, really quick when you are among a large crowd, we learned how interconnected systems of support truly are. A ship is essentially a floating city. All cities require electricity to keep running. Once the electricity goes out, all the other systems begin to shut down. The ability to keep fresh foods from spoiling goes away. Water and sewage pumps have back up generators in most cities, but they can only function for a certain amount of time on back up before they too go down. Cruise ships have proven to be one of the worst place to be when things go wrong. The isolation and complete dependency on the ship leaves no chance for alternative methods of coping with situations when they arise. Besides being susceptible to fires and sinking, they are the perfect environment for air borne disease to spread through out the community on board.

There is a larger lesson here as well. Part of what makes a ship so dangerous is the total dependency on the ship. Likewise, our cities have grown closer and closer to total dependency on the electrical grid. Taking steps to reduce your dependency on the systems of support will greatly mitigate the effect of a catastrophe that eliminates or damages those systems. It is also a clarion call to resist the trend to depend on the government to provide our every need from the cradle to the grave. The more independent we are, the better we will fare if the USS Government ever sinks.
Happy Prepping!