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Search called off for man lost after Carnival Triumph hit pier

April 04, 2013|By Matt Pearce
  • A tug vessel pushes the Carnival Triumph to moor at the Signal International shipyard on the Mobile River, Ala.
A tug vessel pushes the Carnival Triumph to moor at the Signal International… (U.S. Coast Guard )

Rescuers called off the search for a missing shipyard worker who fell into the Mobile River after strong winds blew the beleaguered Carnival cruise ship Triumph off its moorings and into a pier.

The Triumph had been at the BAE Systems shipyard in Mobile, Ala., for repairs after a disastrous February cruise that left it without power for five days. The more than 4,000 people aboard had to cope with urine and feces in hallways, spoiled food and long lines for the few working toilets while tugboats ushered the ship back to port.   

On Wednesday,  about 600 crew and 200 contractors were aboard when the Triumph blew loose, striking a stub pier. Two shipyard employees fell into the water when the pier collapsed, a shipyard spokesman told The Times. None of the workers aboard the ship reported injuries.

One shipyard employee was rescued from the river on Wednesday and treated for mild hypothermia, but the search for the other man lasted for 15 hours before rescuers gave up, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

Relatives identified the missing employee as John R. “Buster” Johnson, 64, a husband and father of two, AL.com reported. A BAE Systems spokesman was not available for comment on Thursday evening.

AL.com also reported that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had opened an investigation into the incident. OSHA representatives did not respond to a request for comment left after hours on Thursday.

Video from the scene Wednesday, uploaded to YouTube and posted below, showed the Triumph unmoored in the Mobile River in strong winds and drifting into another ship as a tugboat tried to push the Triumph away.

Carnival said the Triumph sustained slight damage. The company did not comment further Thursday.

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