Update: Carnival to reimburse U.S. for Triumph, Splendor response.

“I’m discussing @Carnival cruises on @RockCenterNBC tonight at 10. Freeloaders at taxpayer expense- needs to change” Senator Jay Rockefeller via Twitter

Carnival Triumph Incident

The Carnival Triumph seen from the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous. US Coast Guard photo

This week a Georgia Congressman announced he wants to hold hearings regarding Carnival’s handling of the Triumph incident, while US Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia reported that he is investigating Carnival Cruise Lines for not reimbursing taxpayers for the nearly $780,000 in US Coast Guard and government costs associated with the rescue of the Carnival Triumph.

According to the Associated Press, Senator Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote to Miami-based Carnival in March saying he was “deeply troubled” by reports from passengers about conditions on the Triumph prior to its arrival in Mobile in February after being assisted by the US Coast Guard. “These costs must ultimately be borne by federal taxpayers” said Rockefeller.

The letter also highlighted the fact that Carnival pays “little or no federal income taxes” to the US government and asked Carnival to provide more information about 90 ship related incidents the US Coast Guard has recorded in the past five years.

Carnival responded to the Senator by saying “maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community.” Carnival also said that its ships responded to 11 incidents in the past year at the request of the Coast Guard.

Rockefeller called the response “shameful” and says that that he is considering “all options” to improve safety standards aboard passenger vessels and recoup government costs related to the Triumph Incident.

In a recent statement, Carnival CEO Mickey Arison avoided the topic of reimbursement but stated “I assure you, as I did during our discussions, that we remain committed to the safety and comfort of our guests and we are proud of our ability to provide millions of people with safe, fun and memorable vacation experiences.”

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