Matsui: Progress Made on Cruise Vessel Safety

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WASHINGTON — On Jan. 13, the two year anniversary of the Costa Concordia tragedy, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its review of cruise ship security and safety issues, including implementation of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) and signed into law July 27, 2010.

“Two years ago today, the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Giglio Island, killing 32 passengers and injuring 64,” said Matsui. “This incident was a tragic reminder that cruises marketed as safe, family-friendly vacations can quickly turn into dangerous nightmares.

“I am pleased that the GAO report released today shows that good progress has been made in implementing the safety and security measures required in my legislation … Measures such as medical treatment for victims of sexual assault, availability of passenger safety information, and security latches and time-sensitive keys are critical to ensuring cruise passengers have better protections and greater access to information about the safety of their vessel.”

The report found that 11 of the 15 measures required under the CVSSA have been implemented, but that provisions on technology requirements for overboard detection, crime reporting and video surveillance need to be strengthened.

“In addition to the good progress highlighted in the GAO report, it clearly demonstrates that further efforts are needed,” said Matsui. “That is why I have introduced H.R. 2800, the Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA), bipartisan legislation that will build on the CVSSA to ensure passengers have access to accurate, timely, and transparent cruise ship crime data figures.

“If passed, this legislation will implement technical changes to address the crime reporting concerns laid out in the GAO report, and continue our commitment to providing passengers with valuable safety information.”

The CPPA bolsters FBI notification requirements when an alleged incident occurs aboard a cruise ship. The bill also ensures consumers are able to access more detailed information about crimes that occur on cruise vessels by further breaking out the data on specific types of crimes so that consumers have a better understanding of what the data means.

Finally, the CPPA strengthens video surveillance requirements in the CVSSA to ensure maximum protection for passengers and victims, while taking steps to avoid privacy concerns.

The GAO report can be viewed at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-43.

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