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GAO Report on Cruise Vessel Security and Safety

CRUISE VESSELS  – Most Required Security and Safety Measures Have Been Implemented, but Concerns Remain About Crime Reporting, December 2013.

“The cruise industry and federal agencies have implemented 11 of 15 Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) provisions, but implementation of 4 provisions requires the development of regulations and policy, and is underway. Officials from all five cruise lines GAO met with said most required measures were in place when the CVSSA was enacted. According to U.S. Coast Guard officials, a notice of proposed rulemaking is in development to address 3 of the 4 remaining provisions. The 3 provisions relate to technologies to (1) detect a person going overboard, (2) maintain a video surveillance system to assist in documenting crimes on the vessel, and (3) transmit communications and warnings from the ship to anyone in surrounding waters. A policy linked to the fourth provision on the certification of trainers who provide the CVSSA course on crime scene preservation to cruise line personnel, is, as of December 2013, undergoing review at the Department of Transportation. With respect to CVSSA crime-reporting requirements, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Coast Guard have implemented these provisions as required. Accordingly, the agencies publish on a website information on reported crimes that are no longer under investigation. However, GAO identified some limitations in the usefulness of the publicly reported data. Specifically, (1) allegations for which investigations are not opened are never published; (2) the data are not timely–due to the length of the criminal justice process–and thus, crime data may be posted months or years after the alleged crime occurred and (3) the data reported are not put into context, such as a city’s crime rate, to provide the public with the information needed to compare rates and make decisions. However, some cruise lines are making efforts to improve reported crime data. In August 2013, several cruise lines began voluntarily disclosing alleged crime data on their websites. Also, in July 2013, legislation was introduced to amend the CVSSA that would revise and expand crime-reporting requirements, among other items. As of November 2013, however, these actions were either new or pending. Thus, GAO could not assess whether, or to what extent, the voluntary reporting or potential legislation might provide more useful data than current requirements.”

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