"In just the past five years I am aware of 90 serious events that have occurred on your cruise ships," writes Senator Jay Rockefeller in his capacity as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
He wrote a letter to Carnival CEO Micky Arison about the mounting costs of taxpayer-funded rescues of stranded cruise ships over the years. Carnival is incorporated outside the U.S., limiting its tax burden.
The senator went on to say he is "deeply troubled" by the latest incident involving an engine fire and loss of power aboard the Carnival Triumph. He described passenger accounts of being adrift in the Gulf of Mexico with no power, rotting food and passengers relieving themselves in biohazard bags as "nightmarish and horrific."
Also listed among the incidents of the last five years were "groundings, collisions, allisions, engine and generator room fires, propulsion and electrical system failures" all requiring the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard or Navy.
"The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy have indicated that the costs to them of responding to the 2010 Carnival Splendor incident were $1,541,905.53 and $1,884,376.75, respectively. The Coast Guard has indicated to me that the cost of responding to the Carnival Triumph incident is $779,914.26. These costs must ultimately be borne by federal taxpayers. Given that you reportedly pay little or nothing in federal taxes, do you intend to reimburse the Coast Guard and the Navy for the cost of responding to either the Carnival Splendor marine casualty or the Carnival Triumph marine casualty?"