On September 23, 2010 as the Cunard Line Queen Mary 2 approached Barcelona, Spain and explosion shook the cruise ship loaded with passengers.
The explosion caused extensive damage to the surrounding electric panels with a steel cover plate blown out into the main switchboard room resulting in the cruise ship being blacked out totally for about half an hour.
Investigators say that one of the capacitors - an energy-storing container - in a compartment within a switchboard room failed.
The investigation concluded that a capacitor, one of 12 in a harmonic filter - a device which counters variations in voltage, had failed, deteriorating gradually.
What the report doesn't say is that when a capacitor is beginning to deteriorate, it begins to gradually bulge for a period of time before it explodes. If you open a computer cpu you've had for a while, look at the capacitors and they appear to be slightly swelling, replace them. If you don't, they will explode and the computer will crash. The resulting failure can and most frequently does cause damage to other components and can be a costly repair. Regular maintenance is the key to avoiding an explosion.
The report says, "There was evidence of smoke and heat in the compartment and any fire was probably extinguished by water from the hi-fog system. Two hi-fog outlets, one in the harmonic filter compartment and the other in the main switchboard room, were activated in the wake of the blast."
You can see the blackened areas in the image on the next page indicating there was a fire aboard. What is interesting is that Cunard reported to the public that it was a simple power failure. Does this look like a simple power failure to you? Given that the average Joe might conclude that an half hour power outage was indeed minor, they wouldn't suspect that had a crew member been in the area when the explosion took place he would have been killed, if not severely injured.
The report goes on to say, "The harmonic filter was connected directly to 11kV bus bars and was located in a compartment within the aft main switchboard room. The blast forced the steel door to the compartment out through its frame and also caused serious damage to an adjoining steel door into the main switchboard room. The stiffeners on the bulkhead of the compartment were buckled and the steel cover plate on a cross-flooding duct was blown out into the main switchboard room."