|Independence of the Seas' three azipod propulsion units|
A bearing failure on one of its three azipod propulsion units left the 3,600-passenger vessel dependent on the remaining two pods – electric motors attached to the outside of the hull replacing conventional shaft-driven propellers. Its top speed was restricted to 19.5 knots instead of the design maximum of 21.6 knots.
The unit’s failure came to light in a posting on the Facebook Cruise Lovers’ page. A contributor said the unit’s propellers were removed to prevent vibration, and that they were eventually replaced in visit to dry dock. The post added: “Three years of going forward and back over the Bay of Biscay with only two azipods is quite a feat.”
Royal Caribbean marketing and PR director Jo Briody confirmed the failure. She said: “Independence of the Seas has two azipods and one fixipod. Due to bearing failure, the blades of the fixipod were removed as a temporary measure to prevent further damage. The only resulting outcome was that the vessel was not able to reach its top speed.
“This does not provide any limitations as the ship sails in the Bay of Biscay. In fact, speeds of 19.5 knots were still attainable. The removal did not cause any delays or missed ports during Independence of the Seas' cruises.”
She added that full power was restored during a dry dock overhaul in April 2013.
Independence of the Seas left Southampton for the last time on November 1 and will spend the winter sailing in the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From April 2015, it will be replaced on ex-UK sailings by brand new ship Anthem of the Seas.