U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento called on her colleagues in Congress Friday to investigate an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship, which left 4,000 passengers and crew members stranded at sea in squalid conditions for four days.
The crippled ship was towed into the port of Mobile, Ala., late Thursday, and weary passengers were taken to hotels in New Orleans.
In a letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Matsui cited safety concerns for the passengers, who lacked access to food and working toilets after the ship lost power and some rooms flooded.
"The cruise industry forcefully defends itself as being a provider of safe, luxurious vacations. Yet the experience on board the Triumph was anything but," Matsui wrote. "We owe it to the people who lived through this nightmare a swift and thorough investigation into what went wrong and why."
Matsui, a Democrat, co-sponsored the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act in 2010, a law that Congress passed with bipartisan support and President Barack Obama signed.
The chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said in a statement that the panel would make sure the law was being implemented.
"Safety of the traveling public is a top priority," Shuster said. "Currently, the Coast Guard, in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board, is conducting an inquiry and the Committee is receiving regular updates from the parties involved."
PHOTO CREDIT: The cruise ship Carnival Triumph is towed into Mobile Bay near Dauphin Island, Ala., Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The Associated Press/Dave Martin