Chairman Rockefeller Applauds Senate Passage of Bill to Protect Passengers on Cruise Ships

June 10, 2010

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today applauded Senate passage of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 (S. S.588), a bill that will improve the safety and security of cruise ships passengers.

“Serious safety and security breaches have occurred aboard cruise ships and many often go unreported. This legislation will help compel the cruise ship industry to do more to protect their patrons,” said Chairman Rockefeller. “More than 10 million Americans will sign up for a cruise ship vacation this year. Their safety aboard these ships should be priority number one. I am pleased the Senate has taken a critical step toward improving the safety and security of cruise ship passengers.”

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 will:

  • Require safety and security enhancements on cruise vessels to increase the safety of passengers. Requirements include installing security video cameras in targeted areas, limiting access to passenger rooms to select staff during specific times, installing technology that can detect when passengers have fallen overboard, and installing acoustic hailing and warning devices capable of communicating and enforcing the 500 yard security zone. 
  • Provide transparency in reporting. The legislation would establish a reporting structure based on the current voluntary agreement in place between the cruise industry, the FBI, and the Coast Guard. Additionally, each ship would be required to maintain a log book, which would record all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and passenger/crewmember complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assault. The log books would be available to FBI and Coast Guard electronically, as well as to any law enforcement officer upon request. Statistical information would be posted on a public website maintained by the Coast Guard.
  • Improve crime scene response. Each ship would be required to maintain anti-retroviral medications and medications used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases after assault, as well as equipment and materials for performing a medical examination to determine if a victim has been raped. A United States licensed medical practitioner would be on every ship to perform the necessary examinations and to administer treatment. Private medical information would be protected, and would require written authorization for release. Additionally, all passengers would be given free, immediate, and confidential access to a National Sexual Assault Hotline and the FBI.
  • Improve training procedures. The bill would establish a program designed by the Coast Guard and the FBI, and certified by the Administrator of the Maritime Administration, to train appropriate crewmembers in crime scene investigation. Each ship would be required to maintain one crewmember trained and certified under such a program.