The America set new standards in passenger shipping what her security technology was concerned. Some of their time innovative safety systems have been proven to the present and are still standard, such as the first ever built on a passenger ship magnetic fire doors.
At William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect of America, security was already in the first place. He considered it to create the safest ship in the world as a challenge. The statutory provisions which were already very high by the tragic fire of the passenger ship Morro Castle in the mid 30s in the U.S., have been exceeded on the America many times over. All then emerging safety innovations have been implemented in their sharpest form in the deed.
The America possessed 14 lifeboats and 2 rescue boats, all made of metal. All lifeboats were double with 20 watertight compartments and so exaggerated, even if they should be filled up to the surface. All lifeboats were motorized and summarized each 135 persons, the two Notboote 35
By their V-shaped interior was through seas hereinschwappendes water to some extent no danger, but also stabilized the boat.
All lifeboats were equipped with emergency survival systems.
The lifeboats were gravity type davits, which brought the lifeboats in an emergency, without much effort on rails in the loading position. Abseiling the controlled motor boats came, also manually in an emergency without the necessary effort due to unlock the special winches, which abseiled the lifeboat at speed kontrollierer by its own weight. The two Notboote possessed special David and winds that have a particularly fast to water to guarantee a "man overboard" - situation, no time to lose. Some lifebuoys were equipped with electric navigation lights specifically for the salvation of people floating in the water at night.
In order to avoid misinformation and panic during an evacuation ship, there was an audible everywhere on the ship speaker system for emergency announcements, which worked independently of the normal speaker system. In the area of emergency collection stations and on the sun deck at the loading position of the lifeboats of this system was equipped with a two way channel, so that a direct communication with the bridge was possible and decisions of officers or crew could be taken without loss of time as and coordination has been simplified. This system should be tightening regulations only decades later standard on all passenger ships.
"Emergency exit to lifeboats"- From all dining rooms (3rd class dining room seen here) and other major puplic rooms there was a direct exit system to the lifeboats.
The arrangements for fire protection were for a ship that was built in the late 30's unprecedented and probably the most impressive thing that America was way ahead of security measures to offer their time. Everything at that time was technically possible, was mostly never been tested and had to be made by the shipyard only practicable through development work, was implemented to America with an unprecedented standard of safety equip.
Electronical control panel of fire zones and firedoor screening.
The Lux-rich audio cabinet, a fire detection cabinet aboard America (middle picture). Over the pipes ending in this cabinet air samples are continuously sucked in from the holds and technical areas. If there is a fire, smoke will flow out of the nozzle in question marking the affected area or room.
A demonstration of the principe can be seen in the right picture.
For the cargo spaces and technical areas of the ship there was a very complex system. In the fire control room air samples were transported on a regular basis by electric fan all sensitive areas. These were sent by a glass cabinet so as to optically detect smoke. To prevent human error here, there was also an electronic system, the detected smoke particles in these air samples and an audible alarm triggered to make officers aware.
If a fire is detected and to ensure that there are no people more in a given area, the department would isolated on fire doors and flooded with gaseous carbon dioxide to extinguish the fire by oxygen deficiency or to keep them at bay. To this end, there were on board about three tons of compressed carbon dioxide.
In the machinery spaces, there were additional carbon dioxide extinguishing systems that could be operated manually with hoses to extinguish small fires so without having to evacuate the entire room. To prevent fire, thus devastating explosions in the fuel and oil tanks, ballast, there was a fighting system, fire smothered with steam and combustion gases made harmless, so-called "steam smothering system".
The entire ship had a well-marked emergency exits, alarm and emergency lighting system.
Alarm systems, fire resistance of materials, fire zone division of the ship, fire detection and extinguishing systems formed a comprehensive system to ensure high safety on board.
The fire control center for this system was on the sports deck behind the bridge. From there it was centrally possible to isolate a fire on a division of America into fire zones and thus ensure even stairwells for evacuation. The refractory departments, divided by steel bulkheads covered with Marinite, could be isolated by the first ever installed on a passenger ship magnetic fire doors. These doors possessed electromagnet, which they kept open and in case of power interruption (either intentionally or through switches with energy loss) as automatically closed. A functioning power supply is therefore not necessary in an emergency to automatically foreclose burning departments. The fire doors also possessed hydraulic door closer, closing the doors which also secured with limited impact side of the ship.
Emergency power supply
The power of America was assured normally about four steam-powered 600 kW generators, three were on duty and one in rotation on reserve. A failed generator is thus no problem. Should fail more generators, the generators still in operation were able to run for two hours at 25% overload, of which the first five minutes even at 50%.
Should not the generators, but the main switchboard cause the power outage, the smaller emergency switchboard took over the most important functions.
If all generators fail at once, grabbed the emergency power supply. The first thing was automatically switched to battery power for navigation instruments, position lights, emergency light, hydraulic pump motors (hydraulic systems for watertight doors), communication and alarm systems.
This battery power was intended as a bridge to power recovery or to start the emergency diesel generator during longer outages. This yielded 150 kilowatts and guaranteed next lighting and the operation of fire pumps and emergency bilge pump in case of water entering into the hull.
All emergency power supply systems of America (emergency generators, batteries, emergency switchboard) were in her front dummy funnel, so in the highest structural survey of the ship. So they were in the case of an accident to obtain very long in a position maintain power to the ship.
The fuel tank for the emergency generator was located further up the funnel. So it allowed a fuel supply by gravity. Several in front of the generator unifying fuel lines ensured that the supply of the generator would also work during a list.
Battery room right behind the emergency generator.
To minimize the danger of fire, over 90% of the entire ship was constructed by non-combustible materials. To achieve this high level, it was necessary first of all to reduce the amount of flammable materials in the interior construction. The solution for wall and ceiling linings and insulation was Marinite, a produced by the company Johns-Manville asbestos composite which replaced the wood panels commonly used before and laminated optical reasons in passenger areas with a thin wood veneer or painted. Upholstery fillings, pillows and mattress fillings were of specially developed by Dunlop company (also known for car tires), fire-retardant foam latex.
But if should nevertheless a fire break out, a comprehensive fire detection and control concept for keeping the resulting damage minimal and to prevent the spread effectively existed.
Magnetic firedoors aboard America, the world's first on a passenger ship.
Safety instruction given by an officer in 2. class lounge
-Picture: WikiMedia, Drbdlynch, CC-
Speakers and two way communication systems on sundeck.