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“Comprehensive Reporting Regime” for cruise lines (CLIA) to follow in wake of Missing George Allen Smith IV

Representatives of the Cruise Lines International Association, CLIA, has asked the Coast Guard to draft a “comprehensive reporting regime” for cruise lines to follow. This in the wake of the widely publicized disappearance of George Allen Smith IV aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise. The controversy surrounding George Smith’s disappearance lead to a Congressional hearing lead by US Representative Christopher Shays, R-CT.

U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., also held hearings on cruise line safety, questioning whether the industry did enough to track and report crime and other problems that occur on its ships.

Crye said that while cases of missing passengers, injuries and crimes aboard cruise ships are rare, the public scrutiny has caused the industry to consider establishing more uniform reporting standards.

Shays’ hearing raised questions about who is contacted and under what circumstances should the contact be made. Multiple agencies, such as the FBI, U.S. Coast Guard and foreign police, can sometimes get involved, although they each have different reporting standards. Crye said his trade group has asked the Coast Guard to draft a “comprehensive reporting regime” for cruise lines to follow.

“We’re ready to execute it as an industry,” Crye said.
(Greenwhich Times)

Comments from the Shays hearings on the cruise line industry and safety issues.

“Ocean travel puts passengers and crew in a distant, isolated environment and subjects them to unique risks and vulnerabilities. Like small cities, cruise ships experience crimes — from petty to profoundly tragic. But city dwellers know the risks of urban life, and no one falls off a city never to be heard from again. Cruise passengers can be blinded to the very real perils of the sea by ship operators unwilling to interrupt the party for security warnings. And after an incident occurs, a thorough investigation can be profoundly difficult when the crime scene literally floats away, on schedule, to its next port of call.

“Jurisdictional and bureaucratic tangles can also impede investigation and resolution of crimes at sea. For purely economic reasons, most commercial ships fly under foreign flags. Passengers cannot assume the protection of U.S. laws and law enforcement will be available in time, if at all. When events involve citizens of different nations, in the territorial waters of a third, all three can assert some jurisdictional claim. While these legal and diplomatic niceties are being resolved, the crime trail grows cold and crucial evidence may go overboard or melt into the crowd ashore.

Full House of US Representative memo

Victims rights advocates; however, hope that Shays and Congress will pass legislation rather than hoping that the cruise line industry voluntarily complies with incidents reports. One would think that if the cruise line had been sincere it would not have taken all the negative publicity to act now. The George Smith case shed a spot light on the cruise ship industry as the Smith family has been unrelenting in their efforts for answers and laws/guidelines for cruise ships to adhere to so such events never occur again. The Smith family and Congress took notice of the numerous occurrences that has happened aboard cruise lines. They have had their chance to fix the problem, now its time for someone to tell them what to do.

Thirteen cruisers are presumed to have gone overboard in the past two years, according to the International Council of Cruise Lines. Nearly 11 million people took cruises in 2004 — 8.3 million of them Americans, the council says.

According to the FBI, about 50 U.S. cruisers are crime victims or disappear each year. Half the reported incidents involve sexual assaults; 20% are assaults; and 10% involve a missing person.

Shays said in an interview Thursday that cruise lines aren’t forthcoming about reporting bad things that happen to passengers. “Statistics are only provided on a voluntary basis,” he said. “They have a huge incentive to underplay crime.”
(USA Today)

June 10th, 2006 at 05:34pm Posted by | Crime/Murder, Cruise ship, George Allen Smith IV, Missing, Missing Adult | no comments

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