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Crippled cruise ship makes slow voyage to San Diego [Updated]

As the sun rose Wednesday morning, tugboats continued the slow process of pulling the powerless cruise ship Carnival Splendor into San Diego.

The ship that lost power Monday because of an onboard fire is expected in San Diego about midday Thursday. [Updated at 9:40 a.m.: A previous version of this post said the ship would be returning Thursday night, but officials have moved up the time because the operation is running smoothly.]

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, a high-endurance cutter based out of Alameda, is shadowing the 952-foot Splendor on the voyage for safety. The fire knocked out the air conditioning, telephone and hot food service for the more than 4,000 passengers and crew members.

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday airlifted more than 70,000 pounds of food to the ship. Included were bread, canned milk, canned Spam and breakfast treats such as Pop-Tarts.

[Updated at 8 a.m.: The Navy also airlifted plastic utensils and plates, as well as fruit, to the ship.]

The ship also has its own supply of water and cold food. The cruise ship company has promised a full refund to passengers and transportation from San Diego to Long Beach, the ship’s home port.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A military helicopter brings food and emergency supplies to the Carnival Splendor. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (26)

When the USS Ronald Reagan arrived on scene, the captain pulled up next to the stricken vessel and, over a loudspeaker, announced...

"We're from the government, and we''re here to help."

What "Flag" does this ship have? I bet it's not the USA. Carnival avoids U.S. taxes, then we send our navy to pull them to safety. Find out what country has the registry for this ship and send them the bill. Then, get Carnival to register with the USA or don't let them come back. Charity begins at home.


Hard to believe they needed to be provisioned after three days when they were stocked for, what, seven days?

Aren't they required to have emergency supplies?

To Anon:

The government helping isn't a curse. If you think so you have gotten your definition of government from the wrong places.

It might make you feel better to carry on about government, without realizing the role of government.

Next time you take your car out, try not driving on any roads and ignoring all of the rules.

And they did help, unlike Hurricane Katrina.

What's your point?

Most of the food on the ship is perishable. Last thing they need is people getting sick from rotten food. People are probably eating things like those little cereal boxes and crackers. I took this cruise in August and I can tell yout here is going to be a lot of rotten food when they make dock.

70,000 lbs of spam and pop tarts...ummmmm. What's their motto. 'Fun for all, all for fun'

Jim, you stated, "Hard to believe they needed to be provisioned after three days when they were stocked for, what, seven days?" Think outside the box. Yes the ship had enough food and supplies for a 7 day cruise. However, when the fire knocked out all power to the ship which includes all refrigeration there's alot of food that went bad.

Richard, it doesn't matter who has what and where. In a time of crisis it's nice to see human beings and organizations pull together to assist the entity that's in trouble. Stop thinking so narrow minded.

FYI, I read in another article that Carnival will be paying the US Military for the food and service they are rendering.

Haha, they should helicopter Kathy Lee Griffin onto the deck of the ship to dance around in her usual braindead manner as the thousands of totally PO'd passengers flip the bird at the camera and yell profanities towards Carnival.

I agree with billing the home country. I was on a cruise with Carnival this summer and found out the following:
1. It is a registered company in Panama
2. It pays it employees poorly.
3. They provided great service, but at what cost.

Different Ships in Carnival Cruise fly different country flags.

The Splendor flies the Panama flag. So we could bill panama... but that would just be like billing ourselves since we prop up their government with our money... can't let the panama canal fall into the hands of rebels eh?

But it isn't taxes they are trying to avoid so much as it is safety regulations. And people wonder why so many have been getting strange and extremely dangerous bacterial infections from the water on the cruise ships in recent years.

Without a refer system all the food spoils and then they bring on the spam

What are you nuts??? Carnival does not flag under another country to avoid taxes. All cruise companies sale under other flags because of the high cost of employing US citizens. This came about from our beloved unions and their interest in high wages. Simple solution pull out. If you want to cast blame start here first.

I agree with Richard, Carnival needs to pay the bill for the USS Reagan to rescue them...amazing how fast it got there...guess that shows you who gets the royal treatment during a "disaster", unlike New Orleans...

How about following up your story on the crippled Cruise ship with the Total costs being thrown on the US taxpayer, City of San Diego & surrounding municipalities for the Airlift, Coast Guard Cutter, Fuel, Food Costs etc....Is Carnivale reimbursing all the other costs as well?

Sounds like a pretty good free PR saying the guests will be refunded there excursion costs & sweet deal if they get away with passing off the cost for everything else. No private small business would get away with that!

It's good to know that we have the resources in our government to help these people. This is a good use of tax payer money. Generally the Coast Guard will ride around the cruise ships with machine guns at the ready; not sure what this is supposed to do but it is rather intimidating to constantly see. Everyone will be fine and hopefully their next cruise will be a better experience for them.

Lets see here, the Lusitania was not owned by an American country yet after it was torpedoed in WWI we began favoring the allies. Its often not where the ship is from but who is on the ship. How bad would it be if the US military let Americans starve?


They have no power, thus no refrigeration capabilities. My guess is due to health code/food safety, they cannot serve much of the perishable items due to that. I've heard cruise ships tend to disregard this normally, but if the passengers are fairly aware of that problem, I don't think you want to serve them food. Not only that, but I can imagine an outbreak of food poisoning is the last thing they want right now.

On the other hand, my dad is currently on board, and I doubt he or his nutritionist are going to be thrilled with the choices of spam, croissants and pop tarts. (Although now I hear they're getting fruit) I can't wait to hear the stories.

@ Lauren, 'Time of Crisis'?, these people can still use the pool and the putting green. Check the article again. They have a supply of water and cold food (and now spam & pop tarts). The only crisis seems to be that they may be late for their shopping spree at the next port of call. That, and that taxpayer money may be lost in aiding this 'crisis'.

I hope PANAMA reimburses the US Navy and Coast Guard for all expenses in rescuing their ship. If they are going to accept the profits for "flags of convenience", then they also need to accept the liabilities.

@johnhoens 'A good use of taxpayer money'...really, the ship is not sinking as far as I can tell. That's the real crisis when one's on a boat. These people are inconvienced at this point, not in crisis. And what worries me is that a company as large as Carnival seems to have no provision or contigency plan for something like this? Where are their rescue boats and helicopters with provisions? Maybe Carnival will fully reimburse these costs, then i'll be fine with it.

If any of you commenting whiners were on this ship, you wold not be complaining about who is going to pay for what, how its going to disrupt the port in San Diego, and what flag the boat is flying under. These people are stuck out at sea, they need help, and the nearest able vessels are coming to their aid. I'm sure you would want that too if you were stuck in the ocean.

Without sufficient power to generate electricity to keep the ships refrigerators operating the ship is just worthless pile of scrap floating in the ocean. Of course, the food would go bad in about a day. These cruise ships are very safe to travel on.

The US Navy and US Coast Guard uses this area of operations routinely for training and are quite capable of taking care of these passengers. It’s nice to see the Navy and Coast Guard work together on this mission and taking care of our citizens when necessary. Take a moment tomorrow on Veterans’ Day to thank one for their service :)

The US Coast Guard is coordinating the operation with the US Navy. The Coast Guard Cutters Aspen and Morgenthau are on scene. In addition, the US Navy’s 3rd Fleet repositioned the aircraft carrier USS Reagan. The Mexican Navy sent a 140’ patrol boat and two tugboats have begun to tow the ship back to San Diego. Most of these ships dispatched to the area are for protection and security.

The ship is registered to Panama to avoid US taxes as are most US cruise lines. I hope that Carnival will make good on paying back the US on the cost of this mission.

The real question is: What’s up with that missile launch from the other day that nobody will admit to?

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