Victims of SS Norway (Blue Lady) explosion awarded $13 million

Victims of Miami cruise ship explosion awarded $13 million

May 22, 2008

A federal judge in Miami ruled Wednesday that Norwegian Cruise Line must pay more than $13 million to the victims of a 2003 boiler explosion aboard one of its ships that killed eight workers and injured 10 others.

Judge Federico Moreno also levied a $1 million fine against the Miami-based cruise line.

A follow-up hearing will be held in June to consider additional restitution issues.

The ruling was handed down just four days before the explosion's fifth anniversary. One of four boilers exploded on the 1,035-foot ship SS Norway as it docked in the Port of Miami-Dade on May 25. Most of the dead and injured were Filipino workers. The explosion sent debris and a blast of steam through parts of the 43-year-old ship, once the world's largest passenger vessel. None of the passengers was injured.

All the dead suffered severe burns from the superheated steam and oil that burst from the ruptured boiler, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office ruled at the time.

The company agreed to plead guilty earlier this month to a charge of gross negligence, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The company admitted it had "failed to insure that proper inspections, maintenance, and repairs of boiler components were carried out," according to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release.

A preliminary report released in 2005 by the National Transportation Safety Board said the ship had a history of cracks on its boilers dating to the 1970s.

The vessel is now in India, where it is being dismantled for scrap, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

By Joel Marino

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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