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USCG Cruise Ship Incident Report Summary January 1 - June 30, 2013

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Since this is the first time we will be looking at these incident reports that are mandated by law we should look at some of the background for the training and reporting methods meant to protect passengers not only from serious crimes but also against the incidents which are less serious but often go unresolved because of a snafu of reporting rules.

First let's look at the training program(.PDF) for security officers as put forth by the Office of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The course can be completed in person or on the job using distance learning techniques. Most of the concepts and lessons are pulled directly from other law enforcement agencies and the FBI.

Ship security officers are trained in advanced threat assessment and evidence preservation techniques. Policing is the same on board ship as on land, with the only difference being that a ship security officer is an employee of a private company.

The individual often has previous police or military security experience. These are professional people who are not at fault as part of a poor implementation of a cruise ship crime database.

The purpose of this database, and the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010, is to provide passengers a means to find some sort of satisfaction that their cruise will not be plagued with crime. In its current form the information is so sparse that it is nearly useless.

Let's start with what isn't reported according to the footnotes on the Q1 2013 Report(.PDF), and the Q2 2013 Report (.PDF).

"The number of matters 'no longer under investigation' provided on this Internet site is necessarily different than the aggregate number of matters required to be reported to the FBI per the above. A matter may be reported but not opened as a full investigation if, for example, there is insufficient evidence of a federal crime within FBI jurisdiction or prosecution is declined."

So to be succinct; if it is not prosecutable it isn't reported here. Please note that Federal agencies like the USCG are somewhat immune from personal lawsuits brought by individuals for defamation or false accusation. All crimes should be reported even if there is no prosecution, data can be made anonymous for protection of the accused.

Then there is this footnote about included and excluded crimes.

"...reported matters other than homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national,kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, sexual assault, firing or tampering with a vessel, or theft of money and property in excess of $10,000"

It's interesting to know that if a Canadian or other foreign national is missing there is no need to report. Also, if you are robbed of several thousand dollars that will also not make the cut for reporting. Good luck to all of you in steerage, wait we don't do that anymore..do we?

Passengers should be able to know about all incidents because their enjoyment and safety on a cruise should not be dependent on a prosecution. This happens on land all the time and if it can be avoided on ships we should give operators all the tools they need to protect passengers.

Now let's take a look at some report data. If you like you can open another window containing the reports linked above and follow along.

USCG Cruise Ship Incident Report Q1 2013

Categories are as Follows; These statistics are for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line which are the only operators currently under jurisdiction of the CVSSA.

  • Homicide - 0
  • Suspicious Death - 0
  • Missing U.S. National - 1
  • Kidnapping - 0
  • Assault with Serious Bodily Injury - 0
  • Causing Fire or Tampering with the Vessel - 0
  • Theft Greater than $10,000 US - 0
  • Sexual Assault - 5 (four reports by passengers and one by a crew member)

USCG Cruise Ship Incident Report Q2 2013

  • Homicide - 0
  • Suspicious Death - 0
  • Missing U.S. National - 1
  • Kidnapping - 0
  • Assault with Serious Bodily Injury - 2 (one passenger report, one crew report)
  • Causing Fire or Tampering with the Vessel - 0
  • Theft Greater than $10,000 US - 0
  • Sexual Assault - 5 (three reports by passengers, two reports by crew)

You can see that more information would allow passengers to better assess the safety aboard certain ship or certain routes. This general reporting is a start but has many shortfalls. Maybe we do need more legislation.

Past USCG Cruise Ship Incident Reports

All past reports can be found at the website for the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)which provides this data service.

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