The US Coast Guard and Carnival Cruise Line are both trying to determine what caused a funnel on one of the brand’s ships to burst into flames while it was in the port of Grand Turk.

One of two openings to a funnel on the 2,980-berth Carnival Freedom (built 2007) became engulfed in fire on 26 May as the ship shared a pier with the 6,600-berth Carnival Mardi Gras (built 2020).

The ship’s emergency response team quickly extinguished the blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky, before passengers were allowed to go ashore.

“The Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation,” chief warrant officer Kurt Fredrickson told TradeWinds.

He said the Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the fire because the US is considered a “substantially interested state” to the incident under International Maritime Organization protocols because there were US passengers on board when the fire occurred.

The Coast Guard does not know how long it will take to conduct its probe into what may have caused the fire, which caused damage to the funnel only, he said.

“Investigations can take a long time to finalise,” he said.

“They can take several months to years depending on the complexity.”

Carnival Cruise Line is also looking into the fire’s cause after repairing the funnel at Freeport’s Grand Bahama Shipyard, in which Carnival Corp is a major shareholder.

“We are conducting our internal investigation of the Carnival Freedom fire, and keeping both the US Coast Guard and Panamanian flag authorities informed,” spokesman Matt Lupoli told TradeWinds.

“We will let you know when we have any further information.”

The Panamanian-flagged ship was built by Fincantieri’s shipyard in Sestri, Italy and has a current market value of $204m, according to VesselsValue. It was worth $776m when it was first launched.

Attempts to reach the Panama Maritime Authority were unsuccessful.

Carnival transferred all of the ship’s passengers and crew to the cruise line’s 2,980-berth Carnival Conquest (built 2002) on 28 May to return them to Port Canaveral on 30 May.

As a result, Carnival Conquest’s next cruise from Miami left on Tuesday instead of Monday and was thus shortened by one day, the cruise line said.