Disappearances at Sea: Cruise Industry Refuses to Comply with Cruise Safety Law

Another cruise ship overboard has dominated the cruise news lately. A couple went overboard from the Carnival Spirit cruise ship. The cruise ship did not notice that the passengers had fallen from the ship until after the cruise ship returned to port in Australia  Later, their images were found on the cruise ship's closed circuit television (CCTV) system but the ship had already sailed to the next port at this point.

In this day and age, no one should go overboard from a cruise ship without being immediately detected. The technology exists. See the video below. There are systems in place which can detect overboard passengers and crew members, then signal the bridge, capture the images of the overboard person, and drop a buoy into the water.  The sooner the cruise ship reacts to a man overboard, the Cruise ship Overboard Detection Systemquicker emergency procedures can be followed and the greater the chances of the person being rescued.  

According to the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which went into effect last year, cruise ships are required to "integrate technology that can be used for capturing images of passengers or detecting passengers who have fallen overboard . . . "

Congress passed this new cruise safety act into law after listening to the testimony of families who traveedl to Washington D.C.to testify about the horror of their loved ones disappearing from cruises, like Merrian Carver and Daniel DiPiero  

But the cruise industry is ignoring the law.

The Safety at Sea magazine reported long ago that the cruise industry is unwilling to pay for dedicated man overboard (MOB) systems that detect an individual falling overboard. Equipment sellers have been rebuffed by the cruise industry, which seems more interested in investing its money into all types of new water-slides, rock climbing walls and other amusements. The cruise lines remain unwillingness to invest in life-saving overboard detection systems.

Cruise expert Ross Klein was quoted in Safety at Sea as saying that the cruise industry is “looking for loopholes” to avoid the new safety law.“

In the latest overboard case, Carnival was quick to point out that the height of its balcony railings comply with the existing safety law (42 inches) but it did not mention that the law requires a system to detect overboard persons which the Spirit obviously lacks. 

There are lots of reasons why passengers go overboard: being over-served alcohol, foolish or reckless behavior, accidents, and murder, as well as reasons not known. But most cases remain mysteries. The cruise lines don't monitor their CCTV cameras (except in their casinos because they don't want their money to disappear). And they have not even implemented the most rudimentary overboard detection systems.

The result is no rescue or delayed rescue attempts which are unsuccessful.  Even when there are witnesses to a person going overboard, often the captain of the cruise ship will ignore the witness accounts and continue sailing until the entire ship has been searched, leading to unnecessary delay in tragic cases like this and this. The result is also increased governmental expenses incurred due to the necessity of searching a much larger grid (many hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent in deploying Coast Guard cutters and aircraft), unnecessary deaths, and unnecessary heartbreak of the surviving family members.   

Image Credits: gCaptain

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Comments (1) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
sergio - April 4, 2014 7:24 AM

where can I find the normative references for detection systems of man overboard?

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