LOS ANGELES - A crew member's inappropriate response to a fire alarm on the Carnival Splendor cruise ship in 2010 led to a loss of power that forced nearly 4,500 passengers to endure a hot, four-day tow back to port, a U.S. Coast Guard report found.
Many air conditioners, refrigerators and toilets stopped working during the tow back, according to passengers.
Details of the crew's mistakes are contained in a scathing 51-page Coast Guard report on the fire that broke out Nov. 8, 2010, as the ship sailed from Long Beach, Calif., to the Mexican Riviera.
When the fire alarm first went off on the ship's bridge, a crew member reset it, leading to a 15-minute delay in the activation of an automatic fire-suppression system.
"This was a critical error which allowed the fire to spread … and eventually caused the loss of power," the Coast Guard report said.
The report also faults the crew's "lack of familiarity with the engine room," which hampered their ability to locate and fight the fire, and the captain's decision to "ventilate" the compartment where the fire began before it was fully extinguished, allowing the flames to flare again.
"We agree with the U.S. Coast Guard's conclusions surrounding fire detection and firefighting processes and took numerous actions throughout our fleet as a result," said a statement issued by Carnival.
Neither the fire nor the long tow back to port caused any injuries, the statement added.
"Carnival Cruise Lines has maintained an excellent safety record throughout our 41-year history," the statement read.