Coast Guard Says Fuel Leak Caused Carnival Triumph Fire; Praises Ship's Crew

February 19, 2013

(9:32 a.m. EST) -- A leak from a fuel oil line was the cause of the engine-room fire onboard Carnival Triumph that left the ship adrift at sea for nearly five days.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson pinpointed the cause of the fire as the fuel line running between the No. 6 engine and the fuel tank, according to the Associated Press.

USCG Cmdr. Teresa Hatfield estimated that it would take six months to complete the full investigation into the Triumph fire, and praised the actions of Triumph's crew in their response to the blaze, saying they had done a "very good job."

The Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading the investigation, which has been ongoing since the ship arrived in Mobile, Alabama, but the USCG and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are also participating. Coast Guard and NTSB investigators will continue their work on the ship until about the end of the week, Hatfield added, after which they'll work from their respective offices. The remainder of the investigation will focus on the cause of the fuel leak, the crew's response and why the ship was disabled for so long.

Investigators began their inspection of Carnival Triumph's engine room Thursday, February 14, the same day that most of the ship's passengers finally returned home. Within days they discovered the origin of the fire.

"We know that the fire originated in front of a generator," Patrick Cuty, a senior marine investigator for the U.S. Coast Guard, told CNN. "You can see the ignition marks on the wall."

Additionally, Cuty said the investigation revealed Triumph's engine is intact and "probably operable."
The fire onboard Carnival Triumph left the ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico, reliant upon resupply missions from other Carnival ships and tugboats to return to port in Mobile, Alabama.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor, and Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor