Coast Guard: Leak in fuel line caused cruise ship fire - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Coast Guard: Leak in fuel line caused cruise ship fire

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MOBILE, Ala. -

The cause of the engine-room fire on the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was a leak in a fuel engine return line, according to Coast Guard officials.

In a teleconference Monday, Cmdr. Theresa Hatfield estimated that the investigation of the disabled ship would take six months.

She said the Bahamas is leading the investigation, with the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board leading U.S. interests in the probe.

She said investigators have been with the ship since it arrived Thursday in Mobile, and interviews have been conducted with passengers and crew.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 17 for a four-day trip to Mexico. The fire paralyzed the ship early Sunday, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico until tugboats towed it to Mobile.

Passengers reported deterioriating conditions aboard the ship, including toilets that wouldn't flush, cabins ankle-deep in water or, in some cases, raw sewage, and food and water rationing. Many passengers slept in hallways to escape flooded or stuffy cabins, and some slept on deck.

No central agency oversees, inspects cruise ships

For potential passengers seeking ship information, there's no central database that can be viewed to determine a track record of safety or health inspections. No one agency regulates everything from the cruise line's mechanical worthiness to the sanitation of its kitchens.

The U.S. Coast Guard inspects each cruise ship that docks in the U.S. every year for a range of issues, from operation of backup generators to the lifeboats. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a database of recent disease outbreaks and other health inspection information for cruise ships. Had Triumph vacationers looked up information about the cruise ship through those two agencies before boarding, they would have found mostly clean marks and few red flags.

And when something goes wrong, as it did on Triumph, there are limits to how much the Coast Guard can investigate.

These are not new issues - they had been raised by members of Congress before the Triumph incident.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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