The Coast Guard says it has begun unannounced inspections of cruise ships at U.S. ports, targeting vessels with patterns of safety problems.
Coast Guard officers described the new program Tuesday at the National Transportation Safety Board's first forum on cruise ship safety.
The Coast Guard also said at the forum that its regular inspections of 140 cruise ships based at U.S. ports in 2013 found 351 deficiencies, most frequently problems with fire doors.
The hearing follows last year's fire aboard the Carnival Triumph that left the ship adrift for days in the Gulf of Mexico, subjecting some 3,000 passengers to squalid conditions. In 2012, the Costa Concordia ship capsized off Italy, killing 32 people.