WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Obama has signed into law the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, which will increase security, law enforcement, and accountability on cruise ships in international waters. Himes cosponsored this legislation and has advocated for its passage on behalf of the family of a local Greenwich man.
“Cruise ship passengers deserve the same peace of mind as other travelers,” said Himes. “While we can never replace the lives lost because of inadequate protections, I hope this new law provides some solace to the families of the victims of cruise ship crimes.”
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.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act will:
- Improve ship safety by requiring forty-two inch guard rails, peep holes in every passenger and crew member’s door, on-deck video surveillance, and an emergency sound system;
- Provide transparency in reporting by establishing a structure between the cruise industry, the FBI, and the Coast Guard, including requirements that each ship maintain a log book, which would record all deaths, missing individuals, alleged crimes, and passenger/crewmember complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assault;
- Improve crime scene response by requiring rape kits, anti-retroviral medications, and a trained forensic sexual assault specialist be aboard each ship; and
- Establish a program designed by the Secretary of Transportation in consultation with the FBI to train appropriate crew members in crime prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of criminal activities in the international maritime environment.