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Congress Reviews Safety Protocol Of Cruise Ships

Millions of Americans enjoy cruises every year. Although cruising is one of the safest ways to travel, the tragic Costa Concordia accident and resulting cruise ship injuries have led many vacationers to voice concerns with safety protocol of these vessels.

In response to these concerns, a Congressional hearing was recently held to determine whether cruise ships are providing a sufficiently safe experience for their passengers.

Details of Congressional Hearing

Safety regulations are set by The International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which was adopted in response to the Titanic disaster. Many countries, including the United States and Italy, follow the rules outlined by SOLAS. This includes regulations regarding vessel construction and stability, fire safety, radio communications and navigation procedures.

Additionally, the U.S. enacted The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act in 2010. This piece of legislation requires ships porting within the U.S. to follow more specific criteria, including:

  • Particular safety railing height
  • Peephole and latches present on all cabin doors
  • Presence of video surveillance within the ship
  • Ability to record all complaints and claims in an official logbook

Although this bill provides many protections, a consulting group that specializes in maritime relations recommends some changes. These include attaching criminal liability for reckless abandonment, an area clearly lacking teeth as demonstrated in the Costa Concordia accident.

Connection to Costa Concordia Accident

The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee will review the accident and determine if the ship followed safety protocol when it struck a reef off the Italian coast. The accident caused the vessel to flood, list and rest on its side in 45 feet of water. Of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members aboard, there were 25 confirmed fatalities and 7 people who remain missing.

It is alleged that the captain abandoned ship prior to evacuating passengers, violating his duty to render assistance to those onboard. Congress is now considering amendments to the Act clarifying and applying penalties for similar acts of reckless abandonment and any resulting injuries.

Shortly after the Costa Concordia incident, another ship experienced a generator fire while cruising the Indian Ocean. The fire was safely extinguished and no injuries were reported. However, the ship was adrift for many days before a tug was able to guide it to port.

Although cruise ships are relatively safe, accidents can happen. These include both large, catastrophic accidents like the Costa Concordia and smaller, individual injuries. Regardless of the cause, compensation for negligence leading to injury is often available to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses.

If you or a loved one is injured in a cruise ship accident, it is important to contact an experienced cruise ship injury attorney to better ensure that all your legal rights and remedies are protected.