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Jason

Families call for marshals on ships

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Families lobbying for changes to the cruise industry want the government to consider placing federal law enforcement officers on cruise ships, similar to marshals found on airplanes.

Having marshals on cruise ships follows the same reasoning as having them on airplanes, according to Kendall Carver, the Phoenix-based president of the International Cruise Victims group.

The group, made up of families who have had a member vanish from a cruise, fall overboard or been a victim of crime, said that placing a federal official aboard a cruise ship would make the ship safer.

Carver and the International Cruise Victims proposed the concept during a hearing on maritime security, held March 7 in Washington, D.C., by Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations. Shays said at the hearing that he wants to take all suggestions into consideration.

The hearings were prompted by the case of Greenwich's George A. Smith IV, who mysteriously disappeared from a honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean. His family helped form the International Cruise Victims group, which is calling for improvements to the way the cruise industry treats crime and shipboard accidents.

Carver wants to have U.S. marshals on cruise ships because they could wield authority in cases of crime and other incidents while being separate from the cruise line.

"It's an independent facility on the ship where people can go and report crime,'' he said.

Carver's 40-year-old daughter disappeared from an Alaskan cruise two years ago. A cabin steward noticed she was missing and told his supervisor who failed to report the disappearance. The cruise line later fired the supervisor, saying that he made a mistake.

Carver said had he not spent $75,000 in legal fees, he would have never found out what happened. Having a marshal on the ship could have prevented his daughters' disappearance or given the cabin steward another person to whom to report the disappearance, Carver said.

While the Carver and Smith cases have recently placed more public scrutiny on the cruise industry's safety practices, the idea of placing federal marshals aboard cruises actually surfaced last year when Michael Chertoff became secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Chertoff ordered department personnel to look at every mode of transportation and determine whether enough was being done to ensure security, said Brian Doyle, DHS deputy press secretary.

"We literally looked at every single program we had," Doyle said. "Every single thing was looked at and every suggestion was considered."

Department personnel discussed the security threat posed by cruise ships and compared it to the vulnerabilities of planes, he said. Authorities decided that if forced to choose, they would place marshals on airplanes rather than on cruise ships, Doyle said.

"We have to balance where we feel the greatest threat is. Aviation is still a threat because they (terrorists) use those planes as flying missiles," Doyle said.

While there are no plans in place to put marshals on cruise ships, the department wants to keep open the possibility, said David Adams, Virginia-based spokesman for the Federal Air Marshals Service. He said that while most people think the primary job of a marshal is to protect a plane or vessel from terrorism, they also play a role in deterring crime and helping passengers and crew feel safer. At some point, they could be called on to board cruise ships, Adams said.

Some law enforcement advocates said they see practical obstacles to allowing federal authorities to board cruise ships, which can travel to different international ports. While U.S. law recognizes a federal law enforcement officer's authority to protect U.S. citizens, authority to make arrests overseas would depend on the kind of treaty the U.S. has with foreign states. "You're looking at going in and out of international waters," said Arthur Lester, a New Mexico-based public information officer for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. "It could take a lot more research to be able to understand how that would work."

Also, flights last for hours while cruises last for days, possibly requiring more than one person to cover 24 hours aboard a ship, he said.

"There's totally a world of difference on how would you run it correctly," Lester said. "You're looking at thousands of people on the ship and going in and out of the ports. It's just not feasible. I believe that it would stretch the resources so thin."

Carver said the program could pay for itself by adding a surcharge to a cruise ticket.

Source: Hoa Nguyen, The Connecticut News

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I have read too many stories of missing people, sexual misconduct and other illegal activity on ships for my taste. I totally agree with having some sort of law enforcement presence on cruise ships. Once, our son (13yoa) and his friend were "missing" for a short period of time. My wife and I got the cruise staff involved with the search and found them to be a bit under qualified. Our situation was our fault, but I could see the frustration of people who have been victimized on ships, not to mention the people who are really missing.

BTW- we found them in what I would think would be the least likely place for them- In the library talking with other teens.

:huh: :huh:

Dennis

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The library? I have a 14 year old and it would never occur to me to check the library either.

Great to see you posting again., Dennis. I always enjoyed reading your posts.

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One of the statements in the article said that "Having a marshal on the ship could have prevented his daughters' disappearance or given the cabin steward another person to whom to report the disappearance."

Although having a marshall on board may be helpful, I don't know how they can prevent disappearances, especially if there's only one of them. I believe we have to help ourselves by being more vigilant and sticking with a partner or buddy. Watching out for excessive alcohol may help too.

This is not to say that some of the victims might have met someone with criminal intent, but perhaps some disappearances might have been avoided if due caution were practiced.

I can't imagine what it must be like to lose someone on a vacation. In that sense I understand how the families of the victims are looking for solutions through external sources.

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The sole purpose of having an Air Marshall on an airplane is to prevent hijackings, pure and simple. They were not placed on planes because of an increasing airline crime rate!!

I was watching a piece on TV just last night about a 15 year old girl who got drunk and fell overboard. This happened well after 2:00 am.

True, the ship's records showed that they had allowed her to purchase, and charge, a number of drinks, and you could see her signature getting sloppier and sloppier with each charge. She was obviously getting intoxicated, and the ship was letting her do it. Selling liquor to a 15 year old may be foolish, but, at sea, it is not illegal! In international waters, there is no minimum drinking age. But, it was wrong...

However, where were her parents? Is not most of the blame theirs? You can be sure that this isn't the first time the girl got drunk... And, shouldn't they have kept better tabs on her?

The point is, could a single "Ship Marshall" have prevented this? No. But, the parents could have......

Same with the Smith case....The Ship marshall would have been too busy taking his drunk bride back to the cabin to the cabin to have prevented his murder. And, I don't think his lovely wife has been ruled out as a suspect, has she?

Or, what about the young man on the Carnival ship that got drunk and decided to see if he could balance himself on a deck railing? Could a Marshall have prevented that? And, who's to blame? The drunk passenger.

However, it is human nature for the relatives of these people to place the blame elsewhere, than on their poor, deceased, son/daughter/husband/wife.... It's hard to admit that someone close to you did something so stupid that it cost their life! It's easier to place the blame elsewhere, and makes the death a little easier to live with. It's hard on the families, yes, and tragic. But, let's not blame the cruise lines 100%, either.

No, the cruise lines are not blameless, but it's still a heck of a lot safer on a ship than it is on land.

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the way i see it is, whats one federal agent going to do for over 2,000-3,000 people.On a flight that might work because there is only a few hundred people at the most. And on the other hand, why wouldn't a cruise ship be a good place for federal agents? there is about the same number of people on one cruise ship that pairished on sept 11th?

my suggestion: station a 10 man swat team on board, just have them tucked away out of site of passangers....say in a room by the engine room.

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