MOBILE, Ala. — At nearly 900 feet long, the 14-story Carnival Triumph is the largest cruise ship that has ever sought to dock at Alabama's only seaport. Authorities said the Triumph's final leg required hours of cautious nighttime maneuvering as tugboats eased it up a 30-mile ship channel from a shallow bay.
A small group of tug operators was entrusted Thursday with guiding the disabled ship to safe harbor.
Mobile Bay is a broad expanse of tepid, shallow water only 10 feet deep in many spots. The seaport is at the mouth of the Mobile River and the head of Mobile Bay — an industrial complex of shipyards, paper mills, plants and refineries.
At its entry point, the ship channel is about 400 feet wide. The Triumph at its widest is 116 feet, leaving only so much room on either side as four tugs guided the ship — one at the front, one on each side and one at the rear.