In the last week, there have been several articles about the cruise industry's refusal to comply with the requirements of the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act to install automatic man-overboard systems.
The spirit and intent of Congress in enacting the legislation, as expressed in several hearings in Washington D.C. which I attended over the years, was to require all cruise ships to implement system to alert the bridge when a passenger went overboard so that prompt rescue efforts could be undertaken.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of cruise lines have not invested in the available systems.
A week ago the Miami Herald first published an article entitled "Overboard Cases on Cruise Lines Often Under-Reported to Public."
The Huffington Post followed up with an article after a woman went overboard from a Princess Cruises ship, the Grand Princess, which apparently does not have an automatic man overboard system. The security personnel on the cruise ship were required to look through images on the cruise ship's CCTV system to look for the incident in order to confirm that the passenger went over the rail.
Yesterday, a local South Florida NBC television station, WPTV, published an article entitled "Cruise Lines Are Slow to Implement a Man Overboard Detection System for Passengers." It also aired the video segment below.
Our firm was mentioned in all of the articles.
Today Time magazine published an article "Cruise Industry’s Mysterious ‘Man Overboard’ Problem."
The cruise lines' refusal to comply with the law results in the U.S. Coast Guard having to deploy aircraft, helicopters and cutters over a wide search grid with the expensive and often million-dollar searches being paid for by U.S. taxpayers rather than the foreign-flagged cruise ships which pay no U.S. taxes in the first place.
Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein has documented over 200 person going overboard from cruise ships since 2000. There is no question that the technology exists to automatically and instantly detect persons going overboard.
Supporters of the cruise industry say that the percentage of overboard passengers is small compared to the total number of people going overboard. That may be true. But the cruise industry's non-compliance with the cruise safety law ensures that the prospects of saving those overboard passengers are slim and their deaths are likely.
By Jim Walker, Cruise Law News
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