The Ship As the Lifeboat?

2014-04-23
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  • Travel Industry Wire In a meeting attended by International Cruise Victims (ICV) Board representatives on March 25th the opening presentation of the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C., discussed the new International Maritime Authority (IMO) policy of using 'the ship as the lifeboat.'

    In a meeting attended by International Cruise Victims (ICV) Board representatives on March 25th the opening presentation of the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C., discussed the new International Maritime Authority (IMO) policy of using 'the ship as the lifeboat.' This address was given by the head of the Safety Committee for the IMO, Captain Andy Winbow. A quote from his testimony indicated:

    “It is ICV's position that these ships are not properly reviewed for safety compliance by the flag states given their limited resources and staff.”

    “The proactive approach from the IMO at that time was literally to say, what do we do about the increasing size of passenger ships? Clearly the old provisions didn't really apply, so we need to think of something new, and that proactive approach led to this idea of the ship as its own lifeboat. That's a little bit of a glib phrase, but that was the intention, that it became a much safer place to stay.”

    According to Kendall Carver, Chairman of International Cruise Victims (ICV), the assumption the new policy makes is that ships don’t sink, but obviously the Costa Concordia and the Korean ferry boat designed to hold close to 1000 passengers overnight could NOT be used as lifeboats.

    "Additionally, there was a major delay of one hour or more in even telling the passengers to abandon the ship. Is this because of the IMO’s new ruling that the ship is the lifeboat? Again in both cases, the tilt of the ship caused many of the lifeboats to be unusable and in the case of the Korean ship only one lifeboat was ever launched even after a lengthy delay," said Carver.

    In addition, in a major paper prepared by ICV and submitted to the NTSB, the following facts were presented:

    1. Lifeboats - cruise ships permitted by the IMO to sale with only 75% of capacity.
    2. They allow ships to have the lifeboats several decks away from the muster points.
    3. Do not require special regulations for wheelchair or limited mobility passengers.
    4. Allows single hull cruise ships into icy waters, against the advice of all the experts.
    5. Permits usage of lifejackets which provide inadequate protection and need to be updated to a type that incorporates a hood, face mask and crotch strap.
    Finally, the issue of flag states maintaining compliance of all safety regulations is of concern to ICV. Of particular concern was testimony given at the NTSB meeting by John Akhurst, a representative of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), who testified that they have only a full time staff of six technical experts in London to manage compliance of 1600 registered ships including… 226 cruise ships. According to Carver, “It is ICV's position that these ships are not properly reviewed for safety compliance by the flag states given their limited resources and staff.”

    The role of ICV is to protect all passengers and crew members who could become victims of crimes or other potentially tragic events at sea. We are the only such organization in the world to bring these important issues to the public’s attention. Clearly, the cruise lines are not likely to share these critical concerns. 


    Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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