Cruise ship safety is finally being taken more seriously. In the wake of the Costa Concordia capsizing tragedy, the Carnival Triumph fire, and the dozens of other accidents that have befallen the cruise industry, the U.S. government has begun taking a stronger stance, pushing for greater safety industry-wide. For many years, cruise lines have underreported both accidents and crimes, leaving the government in the dark about serious incidents. Now, the Coast Guard has begun to randomly inspect cruise ships and the truth is finally coming to light.
Though the Coast Guard conducts routine inspections of cruise ships twice a year, the agency began inspecting ships unannounced beginning on March 5th, focusing attention on ships that have received complaints during routine inspections. According to Coast Guard Capt. Eric Christensen, the agency inspected 140 foreign ships last year when they reached U.S. ports and found a whopping 351 violations of international safety standards.
The inspections take about four hours to complete. Once a ship reaches a U.S. port, several Coast Guard agents will be on hand to inspect the vessel for problems. Usually, agents begin by reviewing the ship’s log to see if crew members recorded any incidents or made any repairs. If a malfunction is noted and allegedly fixed, the agents will verify the work.
The most common issue, present in 44 of the cases, was malfunctioning fire-screen doors, which would prevent the spread of a fire onboard a vessel. Other problems discovered in the inspections included lifeboats with cracked hulls, escape routes that were obstructed, and a lack of crew member training regarding emergency situations and proper emergency protocols.