Carnival Splendor Fire Leads to Safety Alerts

Two marine safety alerts issued by the U.S. Coast Guard indicate that firefighting equipment failure may be one reason the Carnival Splendor ended up losing power and being stuck at sea off the coast of Mexico last month.

The alerts urge ship owners to test their fixed firefighting systems to make sure they are working properly.

The Coast Guard says the cruise ship's firefighting crew responded correctly to an engine room fire, "using portable extinguishing equipment."

But there were issues including faulty directions on how to operate the firefighting system.

Carnival Cruise Lines spokesman Vance Gulliksen tells AOL Travel News the instruction manuals mentioned by the Coast Guard were provided by the shipbuilder, Italy's Fincantieri.

"It is unknown at this time as to why the information was depicted incorrectly," Gulliksen says.

The Carnival Splendor's firefighting system had been recently inspected and serviced by an authorized service provider, the Coast Guard says. Yet there were big issues.

A preliminary investigation indicates, among other things, the CO2 system did not operate as designed.

"It had to be manually operated from the CO2 room and a malfunction of the release valves and leaks in the system prevented the CO2 from being deployed into the aft engine room in sufficient quantity to extinguish the fire," Gulliksen says.

The fire was eventually put out after five hours.

Gulliksen declined to speculate on whether the cruise line might pursue any legal action as a result of any system failures.

The fire knocked out power on the Splendor and the ship had to be towed to San Diego with nearly 3,500 passengers onboard enduring nightmare conditions.

The Coast Guard's investigation into the cause of the fire continues.

The ship is currently under repair. Carnival canceled all cruises on the vessel until Feb. 20.

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