Local Tragedy Leads to Protections for Cruise Passengers
WASHINGTON, DC—The four-year fight of a local family to protect the rights of cruise ship crime victims and passengers took an important step forward today as the provisions from the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act were passed as part of this year’s Coast Guard Authorization Act in the U.S. House. Congressman Jim Himes helped pass this legislation, which establishes stringent new requirements on cruise vessels to ensure the safety and security of the more than 12 million American passengers who embark on cruise ships every year.
In 2005, George Smith IV of Greenwich went missing while on his honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean Sea, but the investigation surrounding his disappearance remains open to this day. Many blame poor safety regulations and lax oversight of crime scenes on vessels that operate outside of U.S. territorial waters for the lack of information surrounding Mr. Smith’s disappearance. Since his apparent death, Mr. Smith’s family has been fighting for regulations that would improve safety on cruise ships and protect cruise ship passengers.
“Travelers on water deserve the same protections as travelers on land,” said Congressman Himes. “Passengers can count on more enjoyable, safer trips as a result of the Smith Family’s advocacy.”
Following the Smith Family tragedy, former Congressman Chris Shays took up the effort to improve regulations surrounding cruise ship travel, and Congressman Himes has continued the charge this year. The new law will include a broad range of protections for passengers, including installing peep holes in passenger doors, raising standard ship railings, installing security video cameras, and limiting access to passenger rooms. In addition, passenger vessel crew members must be trained on the appropriate methods for prevention, detection, evidence preservation and reporting of criminal activities. This will ensure no one can tamper with evidence in the event that a crime should occur.
“Had these safety improvements and crime scene regulations been in place earlier, this local tragedy might have been prevented,” said Congressman Himes. “I send my condolences to the Smith family and hope they rest assured knowing other families will not have to face the same misfortune.”