The Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act
This act establishes regulations for the recording and reporting of crime and accidents aboard cruise vessels in waters not previously subject to United States law. The law also requires new physical security devices on existing vessels and increases requirements for new vessels. All parties should refer to the full text of the law (.txt),(.pdf) and consult their legal professional to determine proper implementation.
What Vessels are Subject to This Law?
All vessels authorized to carry at least 250 passengers, and provide sleeping accommodations for each passenger. Also, any vessel which embarks or disembarks passengers in the United States is subject to the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act.
To be in compliance with the new regulations a vessel must;
- Have “ship rails that are located not less than 42 inches above the cabin deck”.
- Equip passenger and crew cabins “with entry doors that include peep holes or other means of visual identification”.
- Integrate video surveillance systems to document crime or man overboard situations.
- Have the ability to broadcast audio alerts throughout the vessel.
New Vessel Design Requirements
Additionally, new vessels constructed after July 27, 2010 must;
- Equip each passenger and crew cabin entry door with “security latches”.
- Equip each passenger and crew cabin with “time-sensitive key technology”.
Who is Responsible for Compliance?
Responsible parties include; owner, charterer, managing operator, Master, or other individual in charge of a vessel.
- On Board -
A log book or electronic record is to be kept in a central location that is accessible to law enforcement personnel. All major or minor crimes reported by passengers or crew are to be recorded. This record must be provided to any law enforcement officer who requests access in an official capacity within the scope of an investigation.
The information recorded must include;
- The vessel operator
- The name of the cruise line
- The flag under which the vessel was operating when the reported incident occurred
- The age and gender of the victim and accused assailant
- The nature of the alleged crime or complaint
- The time and date the incident occurred, if known
- The vessel position at the time of the incident or complaint
- The time, date, and method of the initial report
- The law enforcement authority to which the initial report was made
- The total number of passengers and crew members aboard the voyage
- Any case number issued by law enforcement
The responsible party will;
- Telephone the Federal Bureau of Investigation as soon as possible after the report of a serious crime or missing person
- File a written report of serious crimes to the Secretary of the United States Coast Guard via an internet portal provided by the Secretary. Lesser crimes and incidents may also be reported through this portal.
- Report any other criminal incident involving passengers or crew to proper local law enforcement authorities
Each passenger reporting a serious crime on board a vessel will be given free and immediate access to a private internet terminal and telephone line to contact law enforcement, private attorney, or other third party support.
All medical information is to be kept private, with exception of the Master of the vessel who is required to report this information to investigators, or to assure public safety on board the vessel. Any information regarding victim communication is also subject to privacy rules.
Each passenger shall be provided a “security guide” written in plain language.
The guide must include;
- A description of medical and security personnel on board, and 24 hour contact information for these resources.
- Law enforcement contact information and procedures for incidents occurring; in United States territorial waters, on the high seas, and in any country visited on the cruise.
- The location of, and contact information for, the United States Embassy and United States Consulate in each country to be visited in the course of the voyage. This information must be posted in each passenger cabin, and additionally must be posted in locations accessible to the crew of the vessel.
Crew Access to Passenger Cabins
Access to passenger cabins by crew members will be controlled by the responsible party. Crew members may not enter passenger cabins unless authorized according to job description or special permission. Permission logs and policy compliance logs should be kept and audited occasionally.
- On Shore -
The passenger “security guide” is to be provided on the cruise line homepage.
A copy of the passenger “security guide” is to be filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Medical and Security Personnel
Maintain in-date supplies of drugs to combat sexually transmitted disease in cases of sexual assault. Maintain the equipment and supplies to perform medical examinations in cases of sexual assault and to assure the preservation of evidence in such cases.
The responsible party must provide, at all times, passenger and crew access to medical and security personnel that are trained and certified in the procedures needed to treat and document cases of sexual assault and other crimes. Responders will not disclose medical information, except to the Master for purposes of required reporting or passenger and crew safety.
When Will These Regulations Take Effect?
- This act was signed into law on July 27, 2010
- New construction rules were implemented on July 27, 2010
- Crew training certification will begin one year after implementation, minimum trained personnel must be on board as required two years after implementation.
- Safety equipment upgrades must be completed 18 months after implementation
Are There Penalties?
Violations of these regulations may result in –
- Criminal penalties up to $250,000 in fines, one year in prison, or both
- Civil forfeiture up to $50,000 per violation