News Column

Carnival Triumph Faces New Defeat

April 4, 2013

Hannah Sampson

The ill-fated Carnival Triumph suffered more bad luck Wednesday.

During an unexpected afternoon storm that passed through Mobile, Ala. -- where the 2,758-passenger Triumph has been docked at a shipyard since suffering a disabling engine room fire in February -- the ship broke free from its mooring lines and drifted across the river. Two people who had been working in a guard shack in the same yard, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, were knocked into the water during the storm. One was found, but another remained missing late Wednesday.

A Carnival spokesman said all 600 crew members and 200 contractors on the ship were accounted for. No injuries were reported aboard the ship.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Mike Clausen said the ship had some minor damage from striking other vessels; The Associated Press reported that a 20-foot gash about two to three feet wide could be seen and two levels of railing below the gash were dangling and broken.

Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen said in a statement Wednesday night that damage assessment was under way, but "initial indications suggest the damage is limited."

Clausen said if there had been warning of the storm, the ship could have been better secured.

"With a wind storm and high gusts of wind that came out of nowhere with no alert, the investigation's going to result in an act of God," Clausen said.

In the statement, Gulliksen said wind speeds topped 70 miles per hour. The Triumph ended up against a cargo ship, and Gulliksen said Wednesday evening that the vessel had been secured and moved to Mobile's cruise terminal, where lines are mooring the ship and tugboats are on site as a precaution.

The Triumph has been in that terminal since mid-February after being towed for several days in the Gulf of Mexico following a Feb. 10 fire that left it without power, hot water or working toilets. The five-day ordeal, which came to be known as the "poop cruise," drew widespread media coverage and tough questions from industry critics.

One of those critics was Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va. and chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, who last month sent a letter to Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison that questioned the company's safety record.

Arison and Carnival responded to Rockefeller in letters dated March 29; the company released a copy to reporters upon request. In a 10-page response, Capt. James Hunn, senior vice president for corporate maritime policy, detailed the cruise line's safety efforts in the wake of a 2010 fire aboard the Carnival Splendor, the fatal 2012 shipwreck of the Carnival Corp.-owned Costa Concordia and the recent Triumph fire.

Rockefeller was not mollified by Carnival's answers.

"Carnival's response to my detailed inquiry is shameful," he said in a statement.

This report was supplemented with information from The Associated Press.

Source: (c)2013 The Miami Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services

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