Documents filed in a lawsuit over the so-called "poop cruise" of the Triumph in February purport to show the cruise line knew of problems in the engine room as much as a year before the breakdowns, CNN reported Tuesday.
A fire in the engine room knocked out power to the ship, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for four days. Some 4,000 passengers and crew members were left with darkened, un-air-conditioned cabins and raw sewage that overflowed into hallways.
Documents obtained by CNN show the ship departed with only four of six generators fully operational and reveal Carnival was aware of a company-wide fire hazard problem with the generators.
"That ship never should have set sail in February," said Frank Spagnoletti, a Houston attorney who represents several dozen passengers on the cruise.
He charged the company "had knowledge" of the ship's propensity for fires and that "there were things that could have been, should have been, and weren't done in order to make sure that fires didn't take place."
Documents indicate the ship's engineer was aware the generator that caught fire had been overdue for maintenance for at least a year.
Company officials say the fire was not connected to the generator's lack of maintenance.
However, during that same period they learned of a leakage problem with fuel lines located under the generators. A leaking fuel line is blamed for spraying fuel on the generator and starting the fire.
Mark Jackson, vice president of Carnival's technical operations, said Triumph was "totally in compliance" with federal regulations when the ship left port.
Carnival said the misery endured by its passengers was caused by an accident. Even so, the company has embarked on a $300 million fleet upgrade focusing on catching and preventing fire hazards in engine rooms.