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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MEXICO - Tugboats, carrier on way to crippled cruise ship

SAN DIEGO – Nearly 4,500 passengers and crew on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera were stranded off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire cut power to their ship. Tugboats and an aircraft carrier were headed out to help Tuesday.
The Carnival Splendor was 200 miles south of San Diego when the fire started Monday morning, according to a statement from Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines.

It was extinguished with no injuries to the 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members.
The 952-foot ship has auxiliary power, but air conditioning, hot food service, hot water and telephones were knocked out. Toilets and cold running water were restored last night, the cruise line said.
The vessel was about 55 miles off the northern Baja California coast. Tugs were expected to reach the vessel at midday to tow it to Ensenada but it was unclear when they would arrive at the Mexican port, Carnival said. Passengers would then be bused back to the United States.
The ship was in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, which deployed aircraft and ships.
The U.S. Navy was also diverting the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan from training maneuvers to help. A plane was to drop off 35 pallets of supplies on the carrier that will be delivered to the cruise liner by helicopters once the Reagan reaches the area, the Navy said in a statement.
The voyage, which began in Long Beach, was canceled and guests will get refunds, reimbursement for transportation costs and a free future cruise of equal value, the cruise line said.
"We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience," Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in the statement. "Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring."
Information: carnival.com or 888-290-5095.
SOURCE: http://www.ocregister.com/news

UPDATE - 10News was given exclusive access to the tugboat Millennium Dawn, a tractor tug with Harley Marine Services out of Long Beach. Boat Captain Si Layfield said his tugboat had towed at least four large ships hundreds of miles in the last four years.

"It's usually a cargo vessel. It's usually something with 10 crewmembers and a lot of cargo on it," Layfield said.

This was the first time Layfield and his 5-man crew had pulled a large vessel with thousands of passengers.

"You talk to the cargo," said Layfield. "There's people up there that you can say hi to and as soon as we got there we told them, 'Hey, you know where you're going? You're going to San Diego.' And they're all, 'Great, all right."

It took the Millennium Dawn 15 hours to travel from Long Beach to the Splendor in open water. It escorted the ship back alongside a couple other Mexican tugboats.

"Cruise ship is not really set up for that type of operation, so you have to kind of make due with what you have," Layfield said. 



SOURCE: http://www.10news.com/news/25766128/detail.html