CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 3360 is expected to be considered on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) on July 28, 2009.
H.R. 3360 would require cruise ship owners to comply with certain safety standards, document crimes on cruise ships, and maintain onboard resources for sexual assault victims. The standards would apply to cruise ships that take on or discharge passengers in U.S. ports and carry at least 250 passengers. Failure to comply with this legislation could result in a maximum civil penalty of $50,000, a criminal penalty of $250,000 or one year in prison, or denial of entry into the United States.
Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Requirements:
The bill requires any cruise ship that takes on or discharges passengers in U.S. ports and carries at least 250 passengers to comply with specific design and construction standards, meet the requirements of this bill no more than 18 months after the measure’s enactment.
The bill stipulates that cruise ships shall comply with certain design and construction standards such as being equipped with ship rails that are located 42 inches about the cabin deck; each passenger stateroom and crew cabin shall be equipped with entry doors that include peep holes and locking mechanisms; equipped with a sufficient number of operable acoustic hailing or other warning devices.
The bill directs cruise ship owners to document procedures and restrictions concerning which crew members have access to passenger staterooms.
H.R. 3360 requires the owner of a cruise ship to maintain video surveillance to assist in documenting crimes that occur on board the ship to provide evidence for the prosecution of crimes; and requires the owners to provide law enforcement officials with access to any video for evidence.
The owner of a vessel shall provide each passenger stateroom with information regarding the locations of the United States embassy for each country the vessel will visit during the course of voyage.
The bill requires that each cruise ship contain appropriate resources to deal with and treat sexual assault victims, including medical staff that can treat such person, as well as staff trained to conduct forensic sexual assault examinations. The provision also requires that a private telephone and internet accessible computer terminal be available for victims to confidentially contact law enforcement.
The bill requests the owners of a cruise ship to provide a recorded log book of criminal complaints. The provision requires the cruise ship to contact the closest FBI office as soon possible when dealing with homicide, suspicious death, a missing person, kidnapping, assault, or tampering with the vessel.
H.R. 3360 requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to maintain a website that tracks statistical compilation of all incidents, including missing persons and crimes, committed upon a cruise vessel.
Any person in violation of this bill will be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $25,000 for each day the violation continues, with a maximum penalty for continuing violations at $50,000.
The bill also establishes criminal penalties for any individual that willfully violates this legislation, which includes a fine of no more than $250,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both. In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security may deny entry of a vessel into the U.S. which is in violation of this legislation.
The bill stipulates that any vessel operated by the federal government of the United States would not be subject to this legislation.
Crime Scene Preservation:
One year after the enactment of this legislation, the Secretary, in consultation with the FBI and Maritime Administration, shall develop training standards and curricula on the appropriate methods of prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of criminal activities in the international maritime environment.
Two years after the implementation of this legislation, no vessel shall be allowed to enter a U.S. port unless one crew member is certified as completed the training.
Offset of Administrative Costs:
To offset the administrative costs to the Department of Transportation of the cruise ship safety requirements, the legislation would discontinue a number of reporting requirements under existing laws. These reports would include the reporting on the transportation of certain oils and grease required under the 1996 Coast Guard authorization law (PL 104-324), a report on foreign-flagged ships required under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (PL 107-295), a report on Coast Guard search and rescue standards, a report on the effect of bonuses on military retention, and a report on firing into Coast Guard aircraft and ships.
Cruise ship safety provisions were included in the Coast Guard Authorization Act (HR 3619), which passed the House on Oct. 23, 2009, and the Senate on May 7, 2010. The House also passed the stand-alone Cruise Vessel Safety Act (HR 3360) on November 17, 2009.
There are approximately 200 overnight cruise ships worldwide carrying, on average, 2,000 passengers and 950 crew members. In 2007, approximately 12 million people worldwide took a cruise.
A Congressional Budget Office estimates that any new revenue resulting from new criminal or civil penalties would be less than $500,000 annually.
The bill would impose private-sector mandates on owners and operators of certain cruise vessels that us U.S. ports. CBO estimates the cost of these mandates would fall below the annual UMRA threshold (threshold of $139 million in 2009).