Carnival cruise ship tears loose from Alabama dock, worker missing
By MELISSA NELSON-GABRIEL and PHILLIP LUCAS Associated Press April 4, 2013 8:28AM
Updated: April 4, 2013 9:07AM
MOBILE, Ala. — Authorities were searching for a shipyard worker who was thrown into the water in strong winds that also tore a troubled Carnival cruise ship away from its mooring at an Alabama port.
The man was one of two people in a guard shack that blew into the water Wednesday at the shipyard in downtown Mobile, Ala., where the 900-foot Carnival Triumph had been moored for repairs after being stranded off the coast of Mexico for five days in February.
A second worker was rescued, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said. Aside from the weather, the two incidents were unrelated, the Coast Guard said. Both men work for BAE Systems, which runs the shipyard.
Authorities are unsure of how deep the water is where the men fell in, but Carnival Cruise Lines said on its website that its ship-repairing operation is adjacent to a 42-foot, deep-ship channel.
“The search continues for the second pier worker,” Carnival said in a statement posted on Twitter on Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the missing shipyard employee and the family.”
The Triumph was at the dock for repairs after a February engine fire that left the ship adrift without power for five days, subjecting thousands of passengers and crew to horrendous conditions including food shortages and raw sewage running in corridors.
On Wednesday, the ship was pulled loose from the dock in near-hurricane-force winds, then lumbered downriver and crunched into a cargo ship. It drifted for a couple of hours before being secured about 5 p.m. and moved to the Mobile Cruise Terminal, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said.
A 20-foot gash about 2 to 3 feet wide was visible about halfway up the hull from the water and it wrapped partway around the stern. Underneath the gashed area, two levels of railing were dangling and broken. Electric cables that had been plugged in on shore were dangling from the port side of the ship.
Carnival said all 600 of its crew members and 200 contractors who were working aboard the vessel during the repairs were safe. On Wednesday, people could be seen on the deck of the ship and looking out the windows.
The pier where the ship was docked wasn’t damaged but one adjacent to it was when the ship bumped into it, said BAE spokesman John Measell.
Lucas reported from Atlanta.