Cruise Lines Depend on U.S. Coast Guard for Safety & Security But Pay Nothing

Coast Guard - Cruise Line - TaxesToday I read a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard about a maritime safety exercise conducted in the waters of Freeport Grand Bahamas.

U.S. Coast Guard crew members from the Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback conducted a safety exercise with Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas on April 2, 2013. The exercise was called "Black Swan" and was described as "a joint offshore emergency exercise" coordinated by the Coast Guard, the cruise line industry and the Bahamian government.

You can see from the photos, taken Chris Todd, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, that multiple Coast Guard vessels were involved.

The cruise industry's trade organization, the Cruise Line International association (CLIA) touted the exercise as part of the cruise industry's commitment to safety.  CLIA CEO Chritine Duffy said the exercise:

" . . . further strengthens the cruise industry's unwavering commitment to emergency preparedness in coordination with the Coast Guard and other government authorities . . . (and) underscores the focus we maintain on our No. 1 priority: the safety and comfort of our guests.” 

What CLIA does not mention is that the cruise industry does not pay for the Coast Guard services even though the cruise lines collect over $35,000,000,000 (billion) a year but pay less than 1% a year in local, state, federal and international taxes a year. 

The Coast Guard is severely under-funded but receives absolutely no reimbursement from the cruise lines. The cruise industry then uses the exercises (paid for by U.S. taxpayers) as part of its marketing to sell cruise tickets to the tax-paying public.  

The cruise lines have rightfully been criticized for not reimbursing the Coast Guard for rescuing vessel at sea.  But there are many, many other expenses which the Coast Guard incurs which the cruise lines do not reimburse, such as daily Coast Guard escorts into and out of U.S. ports, safety exercises, and medevac airlifts of ill crew members and passengers.

At a time of financial crisis in the U.S., it is obscene that the cruise industry gets a free ride from our federal government for services like this.  A friend just emailed me about this PR exercise by the cruise lines: "what a gross waste of money by US taxpayers in support of an industry that is so arrogant and exploitative of US resources." 

Coast Guard - Cruise Ship - Payment of Expenses

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Michael Bauman - April 10, 2013 7:10 AM

I wouldn't expect an oil company to pay the army for the rescue of American workers in Africa or the middle east, or for individuals to do so if they were kidnapped in a foreign country and then rescued by a military unit. The armed services are doing their job: protecting Americans, who already have paid for such services and protection with their taxes. They ought not pay twice, once with taxes and a second time with higher cruise ticket prices because the cruise lines are being billed by the armed services for doing the duty they were constituted to do.

George - April 10, 2013 9:26 AM

I live in Canada . Our government supplies the same services to all ships and boats that go thru Canadian waters. On the Atlantic side they even supply Icebreakers at no cost to ships in shipping channels. From what Ihave read they aren't allowed to charge for services that they supply in non-emergency or emergency situations. We have groups volunteer search and rescue groups in our country that spend hours & days looking for missing hikers & skiers. They try to charge for the service .

Jim Walker - April 10, 2013 11:20 AM

Michael: U.S. based oil companies pay U.S. taxes. Cruise lines don't. Our U.S. Armed Forces protect Americans and U.S. national interests. The U.S. Coast Guard was not created to serve foreign incorporated cruise lines and their foreign flagged ships.

Andy - April 10, 2013 12:24 PM

During my 15 years aboard cruise ship we were requested by USCG to come to the aid of many vessels in need of aid. This required the launch of an FRC (Fast Rescue Boat) sometimes in heavy Sea's puting the lives of the crew at risk, having to divert a ship off its planned route, remaining at the scene for many hours until released by USCG. Often the next port of call was missed due to these incidents. I can recall one incident where we were requested to turnaround from a 5 day crossing from CA to Hawaii, we rescued a couple and their dog, the cruise company spent thousands on fuel and the cruise was cut short for passengers. Did the cruise company ask USCG for any money to cover the costs for this requested help...of course not.

JB - April 10, 2013 12:32 PM

Jim,

I agree with what your friend said in his comment. I would also ask, where was the Bahamian Coast Guard? Since that is where they are registered and that is where they pay fee's! Oh, wait a minute...is there such a thing? I see how it is...they avoid all the laws and regulations that would go along with a US registry such as health, safety, labor, etc but then take advantage of our federal agencies (26 of them I believe Rockefeller alluded to) as though they were divisions of their own private corporate flow chart. Wow! If only we could all figure out how to work the system the way they have!!!!

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