Senate Hearing to Examine Safety and Security on Board Cruise Ships

June 19th hearing of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation will focus on keeping Americans safe at sea.

The hearing, entitled, "Cruise Ship Safety: Examining Potential Steps for Keeping Americans Safe at Sea," will examine issues involving the safety and security on board cruise ships calling at U.S. ports. This meeting will be convened in SR – 253 at 1000 hours.

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Today, MarEx received the following statement regarding cruise line safety and security from Mr. Kendall Carver, President, International cruise victims. Carver is a frequent visitor to Washington in his efforts and we share his statement with MarEx readers below:

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has scheduled a Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee hearing to examine "potential steps for keeping Americans safe at sea." The June 19, 2008 hearing will look at issues involving the safety and security on board cruise ships calling at U.S. ports.

This hearing will be the fifth hearing since December 2005 concerning issues relative to the safety of passengers on cruise ships. The US House of Representatives has already held in four separate hearings on this very important topic.

This hearing will be the first hearing to be held in the U.S. Senate. Senator John Kerry has been instrumental in having this hearing. In September of 2007, Senator John Kerry publicly indicated that he would propose legislation to improve safety standards for passengers on cruise ships that operate in or out of US waters.

A September 20 2007 press release put out by Senator John Kerry's office said:

"Sen. John Kerry announced today that he will write legislation that would force cruise ship lines to immediately notify the FBI if there is a serious crime on their ship, and force them to develop a better plan for collecting evidence.

The announcement came after Kerry met today with Ken Carver, whose daughter, Merrian Carver of Cambridge, disappeared during a Celebrity Cruise ship in 2004.

"This legislation is a matter of common sense," Kerry said. "We can't undo the past or bring Mr. Carver's daughter back, but we can act to prevent tragedy in the future. We need clear rules for all cruise ships so that we can improve security for the millions of Americans each year who take cruises. There are some simple steps that the industry can take to deal with crime on the high seas, but voluntary steps aren't enough. I am working on legislation with Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) which will create clear rules for cruise lines."

It is anticipated that this hearing will review and propose steps to improving the safety of passengers and hold the cruise lines or accountable. In the case of our daughter, through several months of investigation, it was finally determined that Celebrity Cruise never alerted authorities of Merrian's disappearance. A ship-hand simply took her belongings and put them in a locker. It cost us $75,000 and 4½ months in legal fees and several months of effort to get basic information related to his daughter's disappearance because Celebrity was unwilling to share basic information.

When it was determined to that various crimes on cruise ships are not reported and there are very few successful convictions from such crimes, Carver joined with other victims of crimes on cruise ships and founded the an organization called International Cruise Victims Association (ICV). This group started only two and half years ago with the few known victims and now has members in 16 countries worldwide with a separate chapter in Australia.

This group has received worldwide recognition and their website can be viewed at http://www.internationalcruisevictims.org. This group has been working with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to introduce legislation to correct the deficiencies that currently exists. It is anticipated that following this hearing, comprehensive legislation will be introduced.

The panel testifying this coming Thursday will be made up of four members who include me and other experts concerning this issue. The cruise lines will be represented by one representative from CLIA.

It is hoped that that from this Senate hearing that legislation will be introduced in the US House of Representatives and the Senate.

Prepared by Kendall Carver
International cruise victims

About Kendall Carver

After losing a daughter and then dealing with a cover-up of the facts by the cruise lines concerning her disappearance, I joined with other victims and families who have experienced various tragedies on cruises. This organization, International Cruise Victims (ICV), was formed in January of 2006 and now has several hundred members worldwide in 16 countries. I currently serve as President of ICV. Prior working experience was to serve as President and CEO for 18 years of an insurance company in New York City.

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