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CBP mounted special operation to process cruise ship passengers at sea

CBP boards
Triumph

As the struggling Carnival cruise ship Triumph made its weary way to port in Mobile, AL, on Feb. 14, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) mounted a special operation to expedite its exhausted passengers’ customs processing on-board.

A fire in the Carnival Triumph’s engine room on Feb. 10 crippled the ship and set in motion a cascade of events that passengers have said turned the ocean liner into a “floating petri dish” with broken toilets, raw sewage dripping down walls, food shortages and broken air conditioning for the majority of the rooms on board. Some of the 3,000 passengers on board had taken to sleeping on the decks to avoid the odor and heat in their rooms.

As the ship approached the Port of Mobile on Feb. 14, towed by tug boats, passengers were understandably anxious to leave. CBP worked to get them through customs processing them so they could leave as quickly as possible once the ship docked. CBP said it worked closely with Carnival Cruise lines and the U.S. Coast Guard to expedite the safe return and processing of the passengers.

The ship docked in Mobile the evening of Feb. 14.

Because of the “unusual circumstances” the ship was in before it made port, CBP said it approved a joint enforcement boarding of the vessel to expedite the clearance processing of the passengers and crew. 

The joint enforcement team consisted of CBP officers from the Port of Mobile, along with agents from the Office of Air and Marine (OAM) New Orleans Air and Marine Branch.

CBP said it deployed two 33’ Safe Boats from the New Orleans Air and Marine Branch to transport CBP officers, marine interdiction agents, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel to the ship. Additionally, since the cruise ship terminal at the Port of Mobile is no longer operational, CBP said its employees temporarily restored secured Internet operations to the terminal.

“CBP demonstrated our commitment to doing everything possible to expedite the usual processing of travelers returning home,” said CBP Area Port of Mobile Director, Raymond Polley. “Our officers worked tirelessly onboard the Triumph to process approximately 4,000 passengers and crew as safely and efficiently as possible.”