ABC 20/20 Program "Controversy Around Man Overboard Systems"

Last night, ABC 20/20 aired a program about the controversy surrounding the cruise industry's refusal to install automatic man overboard systems.

There is no question that the systems exist and can be installed. However, the cruise industry refuses to do so. (Disney says that its cruise ships have the technology). But it's clear that Carnival and its brands (HAL, Princess for example) don't. 

The cruise industry has endless excuses why it has still not complied with the law enacted 4 years ago. It says that a bird or debris in the air can set the alarms off. The lawyer for the cruise lines in the 20/20 program says that the cruise lines have not "perfected" an automatic system yet. But there is no requirement for a "perfect" system. As matters exist now, the cruise lines have no system at all, in violation of the law.

The cruise lines' approach is to attack the victims. The cruise defense lawyer attacks the dead and injured saying: “I call it 'sail and sue.' We deal with it all the time.”  You can read my response here

I will admit that many people I have spoken to don't seem to care much about the fact that Carnival has no automatic system in place. Most blame the passenger for being intoxicated and are quick to insult her. That's what Carnival and the other non-compliant cruise lines are counting on.

It's a rather amazing phenomenon to see a non-tax paying foreign corporation which collects over $15 billion a year, from tax-paying U.S. citizens, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars pushing alcohol sales, blatantly ignore the law requiring overboard systems, and then shift 100% of the blame on to the passenger who got drunk on the Carnival booze.

  

 

ABC 20/20 Tonight: "Woman's Terrifying Fall From Cruise Ship Caught on Tape"

Cruise Ship CameraTonight ABC's 20/20 will take a look at the case of a cruise passenger who fell from her balcony, struck a lifeboat below her, and then plunged into the water.

Although her fall was captured on the cruise ship's surveillance cameras, the ship sailed on. That's because Carnival did not have an automatic man overboard system in place to notify the bridge that a person went overboard.

The camera which recorded the passenger going overboard was not monitored by a cruise ship employee, nor was it tied to an alarm system of any type. 

It took an hour and one-half for the cruise line to figure out what happened and turn around and rescue the young woman.  The fact that she was still alive is a miracle.

I do not represent this woman although I was interviewed during the program, which you can see a portion of from this morning's Good Morning America program. 

Some people may say that it was the woman's fault for drinking too much and she's to blame for falling overboard. A jury can apportion fault to both the passenger and the cruise line. Cruise lines in our jurisdiction have legal liability when they over-serve alcohol to passengers. Selling booze is a major money maker for cruise lines. Cruise lines don't make money selling cruise tickets. The big money comes from "onboard purchases," like excursions, gift shop purchases, casino gambling and, number one profit center, pushing alcohol sales.

But the story is not just about who's to blame for the alcohol and the fall overboard.

Jim Walker Cruise Ship Man OverboardIn 2010, Congress passed a law requiring that cruise lines install man overboard technology. The cruise lines have come up with a boat load of excuses why they have not complied with the law, like the technology doesn't exist, or it's inaccurate and unreliable, or its just too expensive.

But there is no question the technology exists. My belief is that the cruise lines simply don't want to spend the money.

The systems are required irrespective of why a person goes overboard.  If they are drunk, or acting irresponsibly, or they fall by accident, or they want to commit suicide, or they are thrown overboard, it doesn't matter. The cruise lines must have the systems in place.

The vast majority of cruise ships don't.  

They would rather keep the money and accuse the passengers of being drunk on the alcohol the cruise ship sold.

Delays in promptly reporting overboard passengers to the U.S. Coast Guard causes the rescue to encompass massive areas of the ocean. This costs the Coast Guard a lot of money, sometimes $1,000,000 in unnecessary costs for helicopters, aircraft and cutters. Who pays for that? Not the cruise lines. They don't even pay any U.S. taxes. U.S. taxpayers do!

The 20/20 program airs tonight at 10:00 PM EST.

Have a thought?  Leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

 Credit: "How prepared is your ship if you fall overboard?" ABC NEWS 20/20

 

Troubled Waters: The Carnival Triumph

Last night ABC News aired a one hour special on 20/20 following the Triumph cruise ship fire.

In the video below, you will hear from passengers on the "cruise from hell" talk about their experiences, and see the Carnival marketing and PR people run away from ABC's cameras.

I answered a few questions, and explained that unlike the U.S. commercial aviation industry with strict oversight by the FAA, there is no comparable federal oversight over the cruise industry. 

 

 

ABC's 20/20 Covers Costa Concordia Disaster (Part 1)

Last night a cruise ship special aired on ABC's 20/20 about the Costa Concordia disaster.

Narrated by Chris Cuomo from Italy, the one hour program contains interviews with surviving passengers.  The 52 year old captain, Francesco Schettino, is seen dining with a 25 year old blond former crew member as the disaster unfolds.  ABC shows a computer simulation of the crash.  The passenger interviews include accounts of the chaos and confusion, the delayed Mayday signal, the false information to the passengers, the captain's cowardly abandonment of ship, and his subsequent refusal to comply with Italian Coast Guard orders to return to the stricken vessel.  Italian authorities arrested Captain Schettino who has been labelled the "chicken of the seas."

There are also 2 or 3 clips of me answering questions at the port of Miami, explaining how the disaster unfolded.

The segment below is about 8 and 1/2 minutes:

 

 

Watch the entire 20/20 "cruise confidential" program here.

Video credit:  ABC NEWS / ABC 20/20