H.R. 1485 (111th): Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of Mar 12, 2009 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 1485

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 12, 2009

(for herself, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mrs. Maloney, Mr. Poe of Texas, and Mr. Doggett) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

A BILL

To amend title 46, United States Code, to establish requirements to ensure the security and safety of passengers and crew on cruise vessels, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short Title

This Act may be cited as the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009.

(b)

Table of Contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Cruise vessel security and safety requirements.

Sec. 4. Detailing Coast Guard personnel to enforce cruise ship requirements.

Sec. 5. Study and report on the security needs of passenger vessels.

Sec. 6. Amendment of the Death on the High Seas Act.

2.

Findings

The Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

There are approximately 200 overnight ocean-going cruise vessels worldwide. The average ocean-going cruise vessel carries 2,000 passengers with a crew of 950 people.

(2)

In 2007 alone, approximately 12,000,000 passengers were projected to take a cruise worldwide.

(3)

Even with these high passenger numbers, few vacationing passengers on cruise vessels fully appreciate their potential vulnerability to crime while on an ocean voyage, and those who are victimized often do not know their legal rights or whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.

(4)

On numerous occasions, sexual violence, the disappearance of passengers from vessels on the high seas, and other serious crimes have occurred during luxury cruises.

(5)

Over the last five years, sexual assault and physical assaults on cruise vessels were the leading crimes reported to and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with regard to cruise vessel incidents.

(6)

These crimes at sea can involve attacks both by passengers and crewmembers on other passengers and crewmembers.

(7)

There are no Federal statutes or regulations that explicitly require cruise lines to report alleged crimes to United States Government officials, unless such crimes occur within the territorial waters of the United States.

(8)

It is not known precisely how often crimes occur on cruise vessels or exactly how many people have disappeared during ocean voyages because cruise line companies do not make comprehensive, crime-related data readily available to the public.

(9)

Obtaining reliable crime-related cruise data from governmental sources can be difficult, because multiple countries may be involved when a crime occurs on the high seas, including the flag country for the vessel, the country of citizenship of particular passengers, and any countries having special or maritime jurisdiction.

(10)

Due to the absence of law enforcement officials on ocean voyages, it can be difficult or impossible for professional criminal investigators to immediately secure an alleged crime scene on a cruise vessel, recover evidence of an onboard offense, and identify or interview potential witnesses to the alleged crime.

(11)

Most cruise vessels that operate into and out of United States ports are registered under the laws of another country, and investigations and prosecutions of crimes against passengers and crewmembers may involve the laws and authorities of multiple nations.

(12)

The Department of Homeland Security has found it necessary to establish 500-yard security zones around vessels to limit the risk of terrorist attack, but no viable means of communicating and enforcing the security zones has been established. Recently piracy has dramatically increased throughout the world and vessels have limited if any means of protection against piracy and terrorism while on the high seas.

(13)

To enhance safety of cruise passengers, the owner of these cruise vessels could upgrade, modernize, and retrofit the safety and security infrastructure on such vessels by installing peep holes in passenger room doors, installing security video cameras in targeted areas, limiting access to passenger rooms to select staff during specific times, installing acoustic hailing and warning devices capable of communicating and enforcing the 500-yard security zone.

3.

Cruise vessel security and safety requirements

(a)

In General

Chapter 35 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:

3507.

Cruise vessel security and safety requirements

(a)

Vessel Design, Construction, and Retrofitting Requirements

(1)

In general

Each passenger vessel to which this subsection applies shall comply with the following design and construction standards:

(A)

The vessel shall be equipped with ship rails that are located not less than 41/2 feet above the deck.

(B)

Each passenger stateroom and crew cabin shall be equipped with entry doors that include—

(i)

peep holes;

(ii)

security latches; and

(iii)

time sensitive key technology.

(C)

Fire safety codes shall be implemented.

(D)

The vessel shall integrate technology that can be used for detecting passengers who have fallen overboard, to the extent that such technology is available.

(E)

The vessel shall be equipped with a sufficient number of operable acoustic hailing and warning devices to provide 360 degrees of communication capability around the vessel. The acoustic hailing and warning devices shall be capable of communicating clear voice instructions to approaching vessels that are 500 yards away, over 88 dB of background noise at the listener’s position with 90 percent intelligibility. The broadcasts made by such devices shall be directional in nature so as not confuse other vessel operators who are not in the security zone and to limit unnecessary noise. The device controls shall be manned and operable during transits in and out of harbors and whenever another vessel approaches within 500 yards of the passenger vessel

(2)

Effective date

The requirements of paragraph (1) shall take effect 36 months after the date of the enactment of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009.

(b)

Crew Access to Passenger Staterooms

The owner, charterer, managing operator, master, or individual in charge of a vessel to which this section applies shall—

(1)

establish and implement procedures and restrictions concerning—

(A)

which crewmembers have access to passenger staterooms; and

(B)

the periods during which they have that access; and

(2)

ensure that the procedures and restrictions are fully and properly implemented and periodically reviewed.

(c)

Log Book and Reporting Requirements

(1)

In general

The owner, charterer, managing operator, master, or individual in charge of a vessel to which this section applies shall—

(A)

record in a log book reports on reported deaths, missing individuals, and each significant alleged crime committed on the vessel, and all passenger and crewmember complaints regarding theft, sexual harassment, and assaults; and

(B)

make such log book available—

(i)

upon request to any agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, any member of the Coast Guard, and any law enforcement officer; and

(ii)

to the Coast Guard in an electronic format prescribed by the Commandant.

(2)

Details required

The information recorded under paragraph (1) shall include, at a minimum—

(A)

the type of vessel;

(B)

the name of the cruise line;

(C)

the flag under which the vessel was operating at the time the reported incident occurred;

(D)

the age of the victim;

(E)

the nature of the alleged crime or complaint, as applicable, including whether the perpetrator was a passenger or a crewmember;

(F)

the vessel’s position at the time of the incident, if known, or the position of the vessel at the time of the initial report;

(G)

the time, date, and method of the initial report and the law enforcement authority to which the initial report was made;

(H)

the case number or other identifier provided by the law enforcement authority to which the initial report was made; and

(I)

whether the reported incident occurred on land or onboard.

(3)

Requirement to report crimes and other information

(A)

In general

The master of a passenger vessel to which this section applies—

(i)

shall contact the nearest Federal Bureau of Investigation Field Office or Legal Attache by telephone as soon as possible after the occurrence on board the vessel of an incident involving homicide, suspicious death, a missing United States national, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, any offense to which section 2241, 2242, 2243, or 2244(a) or (c) of title 18, United States Code, applies, firing or tampering with the vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000 to report the incident;

(ii)

shall furnish a written report of the incident by facsimile or electronic mail to the Coast Guard National Command Center and by facsimile to the Federal Bureau of Investigation;

(iii)

may report any serious incident that does not meet the reporting requirements of clause (i) and that does not require immediate attention by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the nearest Field Office or Legal Attache by facsimile or electronic mail; and

(iv)

may report any other criminal incident involving passengers or crewmembers, or both, to the proper State or local government law enforcement authority.

(B)

Incidents to which subparagraph (A) applies

Subparagraph (A) applies to an incident involving criminal activity if—

(i)

the ship, regardless of registry, is owned, in whole or in part, by a United States person, regardless of the nationality of the victim or perpetrator, and the incident occurs when the vessel is within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(ii)

the incident concerns an offense by or against a United States national committed outside the jurisdiction of any nation;

(iii)

the incident occurs in the Territorial Sea of the United States, regardless of the nationality of the vessel, the victim, or the perpetrator; or

(iv)

the incident concerns a victim or perpetrator who is a United States national on a vessel during a voyage that departed from or will arrive at a United States port.

(4)

Availability of incident data via internet

(A)

Website

The Secretary shall maintain, on an Internet site of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, a numerical accounting of the missing persons and alleged crimes recorded in each report filed under paragraph (1)(A). The data shall be updated no less frequently than quarterly, aggregated by cruise line, and each cruise line shall be identified by name.

(B)

Access to website

Each cruise line taking on or discharging passengers in the United States shall include a link on its Internet website to the website maintained by the Secretary under subparagraph (A).

(d)

Crew Database Requirement

The Secretary shall prescribe regulations that require the owner of each vessel to which this section applies to participate in the establishment and maintenance of a database for reporting all individuals whose employment on such a vessel has been terminated for a matter reported under subsection (c)(1)(A).

(e)

Rape Kits

The owner of a vessel to which this section applies shall—

(1)

maintain on the vessel adequate, in-date supplies of anti-retroviral medications and other medications used to prevent sexually transmitted diseases after a sexual assault;

(2)

maintain on the vessel equipment and materials for performing a medical examination to evaluate the patient for trauma, treat injury, and collect forensic evidence;

(3)

make available on the vessel at all times an individual licensed to practice as a medical doctor in the United States who has received training in conducting forensic sexual assault examinations, to promptly perform such an examination upon request and to provide proper medical treatment of a victim, including antiretroviral medications and other medications that may prevent the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted diseases;

(4)

prepare, provide to the individual, and maintain written documentation of the performance and findings of such examination that is signed by the individual and ensure that no medical information is released to the cruise line or any legal representative thereof without the prior knowledge and approval in writing of the victim, or, if the victim is unable to provide written authorization, the victim’s next-of-kin; and

(5)

provide the individual free and immediate access to—

(A)

a description of the toll-free telephone number and website by which the individual may access the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline referred to in section 628 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–248; 42 U.S.C. 16985);

(B)

information for local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and

(C)

a private telephone line and Internet-accessible computer terminal on the cruise ship by which the individual may confidentially access such hotline services.

(f)

Crime Scene Investigation Training for Passenger Vessel Crewmembers

The Secretary, in consultation with the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall develop a training curriculum for crewmembers and law enforcement officials of passenger vessels to educate them concerning appropriate methods for collecting evidence at a crime scene and proper evidence preservation. The Administrator of the Maritime Administration may certify organizations that offer the curriculum for training and certification under subsection (g).

(g)

Certification Requirement

Beginning 2 years after the date of enactment of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, no passenger vessel may enter a United States port on a voyage (or voyage segment) on which a United States citizen is a passenger unless there is at least 1 crewmember onboard who is certified as having successfully completed training in the collection of crime scene evidence on passenger vessels under subsection (f).

(h)

Inspection

The Secretary shall conduct an annual inspection of each passenger vessel seeking to enter a port in the United States to determine whether the passenger vessel has adequate equipment to investigate covered crimes on the vessel and has at least 1 crewmember who is certified under subsection (f).

(i)

Video Recording

(1)

Requirement to maintain surveillance

The owner of a vessel to which this section applies shall maintain video surveillance to monitor and document crimes as they occur on the vessel and to provide evidence for the prosecution of such crimes, as determined by the Secretary.

(2)

Access to video records

The owner of a vessel to which this section applies shall provide to law enforcement officials, upon request, a copy of all records of video surveillance that may provide evidence of a crime reported to law enforcement officials.

(j)

Safety Information

The owner of a vessel to which this section applies shall—

(1)

prominently post in each stateroom and crew cabin and in other places specified by the Secretary information regarding—

(A)

the name of each country the cruise ship will visit during the course of such carriage;

(B)

the locations in such country of the embassy and each consulate of the United States;

(C)

the contact information for the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline referred to in section 628 of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–248; 42 U.S.C. 16985);

(D)

telephone numbers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and

(E)

the degree to which the owner is responsible or liable for the safety of passengers while they are on shore excursions; and

(2)

include in mandatory crew training the details of this section, its application, and the determination of the United States to protect its citizens against crimes committed at sea.

(k)

Criminal Penalties

(1)

Penalties

Any person that violates this section or a regulation under this section shall be fined not more than $250,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

(2)

Denial of entry

The Secretary may deny entry into the United States to a cruise vessel if the owner of the cruise vessel—

(A)

commits an act or omission for which a penalty may be imposed under this subsection; or

(B)

fails to pay a penalty imposed on the owner under this subsection.

(l)

Procedures

Within 6 months after the date of enactment of the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009, the Secretary shall issue guidelines, training curricula, and inspection and certification procedures necessary to carry out the requirements of this section.

(m)

Regulations

The Secretary and the Commandant shall each issue such regulations as are necessary to implement this section.

(n)

Application

This section applies to any passenger vessel that embarks or disembarks passengers in the United States or that is a vessel of the United States.

.

(b)

Clerical Amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following:

3507. Cruise vessel security and safety requirements.

.

4.

Detailing Coast Guard personnel to enforce cruise ship requirements

(a)

In General

Section 7(b)(3) of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (33 U.S.C. 1226(b)(3)) is amended to read as follows:

(3)

dispatch properly trained and qualified armed Coast Guard Personnel on vessels and public or commercial structures on or adjacent to waters subject to United States jurisdiction—

(A)

to deter or respond to acts of terrorism or transportation security incidents, as defined in section 70101 of title 46, United States Code;

(B)

to act as environmental observers for the purposes of—

(i)

monitoring compliance with the requirements of all applicable Federal laws and regulations regarding the discharge of waste into United States territorial waters;

(ii)

observing operation and maintenance procedures for onboard waste treatment systems;

(iii)

ensuring the proper handling and disposal of all hazardous wastes; and

(iv)

verifying log book entries for all records required by the Coast Guard related to waste treatment and disposal; and

(C)

to act as public safety officers for the purposes of—

(i)

assisting vessel passengers and crew, as needed, with the reporting and investigation of potential criminal activities occurring on board vessels to which section 3507 of title 46, United States Code, applies while such vessels are in United States territorial waters;

(ii)

securing, to the degree possible, suspected crime scenes on such vessels; and

(iii)

collecting evidence of alleged crimes against passengers and crew on such vessels.

.

(b)

Fees and Charges

The Commandant of the Coast Guard may promulgate regulations under section 9701 of title 31, United States Code, establishing charges for services provided by the Coast Guard under section 7(b)(3)(C) of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (33 U.S.C. 1226(b)(3)(C)) as amended by subsection (a).

5.

Study and report on the security needs of passenger vessels

(a)

In General

Within 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall conduct a study of the security needs of a passenger vessel depending on number of passengers on the vessel, and report to the Congress findings of the study and recommendations for improving security on those vessels.

(b)

Report Contents

In recommending appropriate security on those vessels, the report shall take into account typical crewmember shifts, working conditions of crewmembers, and length of voyages.

6.

Amendment of the Death on the High Seas Act

(a)

Application of Act

Section 30302 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by striking 3 nautical miles and inserting 12 nautical miles.

(b)

Nonapplication to Incidents within 12-mile Limit

Section 30308 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

(c)

Incidents Occurring within 12-mile limit

This chapter does not apply if the death of an individual is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas 12 nautical miles or less from the shore of the United States.

.

(c)

Damages

Section 30303 of title 46, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by inserting and nonpecuniary after pecuniary; and

(2)

by adding at the end In this section, the term nonpecuniary loss means loss of care, comfort, and companionship. The individuals for whose benefit the action is brought may also recover damages for the decedent’s pre-death pain and suffering..

(d)

Conforming Amendment

(1)

Chapter 303 of title 46, United States Code, is amended by striking section 30307.

(2)

The chapter analysis for such chapter is amended by striking the item relating to section 30307.