Critical cruise ship security incidents will not be restricted to sexual assaults. “Man overboard” incidents, thefts, and even murders have lengthy been a actuality of those voyages. One tragic instance considerations 26-year-old George Smith IV from Greenwich, Connecticut, who disappeared from a cruise in 2005. In 2015, the FBI closed Smith’s case, and his household might by no means have solutions about what occurred. The Smith household courageously turned their grief into motion, working carefully with Congress to make sure the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010 — the final main cruise trade reform. The laws made vital strides in bettering passenger security aboard cruise ships, however extra motion is desperately wanted.
I’ve spearheaded the hassle to additional reform cruise strains within the Senate since 2013 with the Cruise Passenger Safety Act, and I’m proud to work on this effort with Rep. Doris Matsui of California. This invoice would implement extra passenger security requirements and cruise line reporting necessities, making certain shoppers have enough details about their rights upfront of a voyage and a way for recourse ought to one thing go flawed.
My measure would require cruise strains to retain video footage from any alleged crime for one yr in order that investigators and victims have extra time to entry footage that could be essential to pursue justice. It might additionally require cruise strains to specify whether or not crimes, together with sexual assaults, had been dedicated in opposition to minors. To strengthen enforcement, the invoice would increase the penalties cruise strains face for violations of the legislation.
My Cruise Passenger Safety Act would additionally considerably bolster sufferer help. It might require cruise strains to obviously inform passengers of the statute of limitations for submitting a lawsuit and set up a director of sufferer help providers throughout the US Division of Transportation to liaise with cruise ship victims and develop procedures for dealing with incidents.
Since I’ve led this measure, a number of of its security and well being provisions have been handed by Congress. These provisions impose necessities on cruise strains, similar to putting in video cameras in frequent areas and retaining surveillance information for 20 days, putting in “man overboard” imaging expertise, and making certain ships have simply accessible automated exterior defibrillators. Whereas these now-enacted insurance policies are an vital step ahead, the complete Cruise Passenger Safety Act should be handed to handle the continuing issues aboard cruise ships and to guard all passengers on board.
The cruise line trade has fiercely fought this laws, saying its necessities are “pointless.” As BuzzFeed Information’ investigation makes clear, they’re contested by specialists, legal professionals, and victims and their households. The braveness of these talking out will assist us go my Cruise Passenger Safety Act. I hope the cruise trade will help these vital reforms, which is able to solely make their voyages higher for shoppers. Sturdy security requirements and actual enforcement will assist shield passengers and maintain the cruise trade accountable.
Richard Blumenthal is the senior senator from Connecticut.