Coast Guard Blames Carnival Fire Damage in 2010 on Crew Worker

By Christopher Palmeri | July 16, 2013

Fire damage on the Carnival Splendor in November 2010 was exacerbated by a crew member who reset a fire alarm panel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which is also probing recent mishaps involving the cruise operator.

Mechanical failure in a diesel generator led to the fire, the Coast Guard said yesterday in a report. A fire protection system on the ship wasn’t activated until 15 minutes after the initial blaze began because the alarm had been reset. The delay let the fire spread, resulting in the ship losing power.

The report highlights operational and training shortfalls at Carnival more than a year before a series of accidents and mishaps, including the January 2012 wreck of the company’s Costa Crociere off Italy that killed 32 people. The widely reported incidents have reduced Carnival Corp.’s bookings and the cruise operator’s projected profit this year.

The Coast Guard recommended that Carnival, the world’s largest cruise operator, remove a 40-second time delay in its fire protection systems, as well as make other changes, such as increasing the crew’s familiarity with fire-control procedures. There were no injuries or fatalities on the Splendor, which reached San Diego after three days, according to the report.

Carnival, based in Miami, said in an e-mail was reviewing the report and had already implemented numerous actions as a result of an internal investigation of the incident.

A fire in February knocked out power on the Carnival Triumph during a Gulf of Mexico cruise. About 4,200 passengers and crew were stuck at sea with limited food and toilet access. Separate incidents this year forced two other Carnival ships to cancel voyages or skip stops.

Lower Projection

Last month, Vice Chairman Howard Frank said profit would be 50 cents a share lower than previously estimated because of repair costs and higher marketing expenses.

The company yesterday pointed to a $300 million fleet-wide enhancement of its emergency power and fire-safety systems announced in April.

“There were no injuries as a direct result of the Carnival Splendor or Triumph incidents and, at Carnival, the safety and comfort of our guests is our paramount focus,” the company said.

Last month Micky Arison stepped down as chief executive officer of Carnival after 34 years at the helm of the company his father founded. He was replaced by board member Arnold W. Donald. Arison remains chairman.

Carnival declined 0.1 percent to $36.04 yesterday in New York. The shares have fallen 2 percent this year, compared with an 18 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

(Editors: Rob Golum, Stephen West)

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Latest Comments

  • July 16, 2013 at 4:59 pm
    Human error always seems to be involved in these losses. You would hope that a redundant fire suppression system would have at least kept the alarm on. On a positive note,... read more
  • July 16, 2013 at 2:52 pm
    Patrick says:
    The wrecked vessel is the "Costa Concordia." Costa Crociere SpA is the cruise line.

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