Government Accountability Office Report Calls Into Question Cruise Industry’s Compliance With Cruise Vessel Security And Safety Act

In July of 2010, Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (“CVSSA), legislation designed to improve the security and safety of passengers aboard cruise ships carrying more than 250 passengers on a voyage embarking or disembarking from any U.S. ports. Adoption of the CVSSA was spurred by findings by Congress that “passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to crime while on ocean voyages, and…lack the information they need to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.” Our Florida cruise ship accident attorneys have been viewing the details of this closely.

In order to achieve its goals, the CVSSA required cruise lines to adopt a number of safety measures, including security peepholes on passenger cabin doors, security cameras, higher guardrails, and the distribution of safety information to passengers.

Despite these requirements, it would appear that, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), the cruise industry is largely ignoring four important requirements of the CVSSA:

(1) Man overboard technology to detect and alert the crew to a person falling overboard.

(2) Video recording requirements to assist in the documentation of crimes and in provide evidence for the prosecution of crimes.

(3) Acoustical hailing and warning devices to provide communication capability around a vessel operating in high risk waters.

(4) Certification of training providers that teach the CVSSA training course on crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting.

As this blog has discussed recently, the state of the cruise industry’s adoption of man overboard technology is appalling. Last month, a man fell overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas near Australia. Had another passenger not witnessed the man fall, his absence may not have been discovered until disembarkation. In May, Kristen Schroder and Paul Rossington both fell over the railing of the Carnival Spirit, and it was not until the couple failed to disembark that anyone even realized they were missing.

According to the GAO report, several companies have developed effective man overboard technology, yet all of the five cruise lines interviewed for the report, as well as the Cruise Line International Association (“CLIA”), claim reliable man overboard technology doesn’t exist.

Man overboard accidents are becoming more and more common, rendering the rendering the need for experienced legal counsel for the victims and victims’ families injured or killed in such accidents increasingly important. According to one estimate, since 2000, there have been more than 200 man overboard cases around the world, despite the fact that only a fraction of such numbers have actually been reported by cruise lines.

As this blog has mentioned before, because cruise ship accidents are subject to different laws and much shorter statutes of limitations, sometimes as short as one year, they are best handled by experienced cruise ship accident attorneys. The Florida cruise ship accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. are licensed to practice law in all of Florida’s state and federal courts and have been representing the victims of cruise ship accidents for over four decades.  If you or someone you know has been injured in a cruise ship accident, contact the Florida maritime law attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.

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