Cause Of Cruise Ship Fire: How A Fuel Leak In Engine Room Disabled Ship [REPORT]

By Staff Reporter on February 18, 2013 8:56 PM EST

Carnival Triumph
The Carnival Triumph cruise ship suffered an engine room fire on Sunday, Feb 10. The cause of the incident was a leak in the oil return line. (Photo: Creative Commons)

The Carnival Trump cruise ship fire was caused by a leak in the fuel oil return line that ultimately set the engine room ablaze, paralyzing the vessel, says a Coast Guard official.

On Feb. 10, the Carnival Triumph cruise ship was at least 150 miles off the southern Mexico Yucatan peninsula Sunday when a fire erupted in the engine room. Despite the quick response from the crew and the ship's automatic fire extinguishing system, the vessel ultimately lost all propulsion. For the next five days that followed, 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members awaited rescue before tugboats finally brought the 893 feet-long ocean liner back to shore.

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A harrowing experience for all, passengers endured overflowing toilets and its disgusting odors, long lines for food, and tent cities set on the ship's deck.

A major incident for the luxury cruise line industry, Cmdr. Teresa Hatfield said during a media conference call that the complete investigation of the ship would take as long as six months. However, according to Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Diaz, preliminary evaluations point to a leaking oil return line that stretched from the fuel tank to engine No. 6.

Officials of the Bahamas, where the ship is registered, will lead the investigation with the assistance of Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. The Coast Guard and NTSB are expected to remain on the veseel until the end of the week before returning to their headquarters to finalize the findings. The investigation will look further at the cause of the fire, an interview with the crew, as well as a report on why the ship was disabled so long.

Despite the downward spiraling series of events, Hatfield praised the crew for their quick response on the fire. "They did a very good job," she said.

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