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Tugs tow disabled cruise ship toward Alabama

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm •  Published: February 12, 2013
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HOUSTON (AP) — A second tug boat reached a disabled cruise ship that had been drifting without power in the Gulf of Mexico since a weekend fire and was helping tow it Tuesday toward an Alabama port, the Coast Guard said.

On Tuesday morning, the vessel was about 270 miles south of Mobile, Ala., and weather permitting, the ship should reach the city by Thursday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm said.

There were no reported injuries caused by Sunday's engine room fire aboard the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Carnival Triumph, which knocked out power and crippled the ocean liner's water and plumbing systems.

The ship was about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when the fire occurred, but after currents pushed it northward, a decision was made to tow it to Mobile, instead of Progreso, Mexico, in order to make it easier for passengers without passports to return home.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, last Thursday on a scheduled four-day cruise with 3,143 passengers and a crew of 1,086.

Besides the two tugs, at least two other Carnival cruise ships have been diverted to the Triumph to leave supplies and a 210-foot Coast Guard cutter was at the scene, Brahm said.

"If they do need any help, we're there," he said. "But that's kind of it, to make sure everything is OK."

Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was transferred to one of those ships, the Carnival Legend, "as a precautionary measure."

Carnival hasn't determined what caused the fire or how it caused the electrical problems that have crippled the ship's water and plumbing systems, Oliva said.

"We're going to have to send this question around and see what we can find out," she said.

Passengers have limited access to bathrooms, food and hot coffee, but some described miserable conditions aboard the ship.

Carnival Cruise Lines President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in a statement Monday that the Carnival Triumph had drifted so far north of its original position that it made more sense to tow it to Mobile, allowing for less complicated re-entry for passengers without passports.

The fire in the aft engine room knocked out the ship's propulsion system. The ship has been operating on backup generator power since the incident, the statement said.

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