Ten years ago, a man named George Smith disappeared off a Royal Caribbean cruise ship while on his honeymoon. United States Senator, Richard Blumenthal was at the Greenwich Town Hall on July 7th with Mr. Smith’s family, demanding new legislation for the safety of cruise ship passengers. Since the beginning of this year, 12 cruise ship passenger have fallen overboard, which has led to the demand for this bill. There is an alarming rate of crime (that goes unreported) and passenger disappearances and Blumenthal wants to put a stop to it immediately.
There is a 2010 law whereby cruise ships must report certain crimes to the FBI. Suspicious deaths, murders, sexual and physical assaults, and any theft of more than $10,000 are some of the crimes that must be reported. However, the waters are murky when it comes to these types of crimes actually being reported. Oftentimes, only closed cases are being reported, and this is only years after they were originally committed. Although information is lacking, sexual and physical assaults seem to make up the majority of the reported crimes. If a person falls overboard or if there is a suspicious death, these crimes tend to be swept under the rug.
The new bill being promoted by Blumenthal would ensure all cruise ships have up to date technology that can detect when someone falls overboard. The bill also states there will be sea marshals on the ships who could act quickly if a crime was committed and who would add to the overall safety of the cruise.
Blumenthal pointed out the troubling fact that cruise ships never have any law enforcement on board, which leaves the passengers susceptible to a multitude of crimes. When there are hundreds of people concentrated in one area with zero law enforcement, crimes are bound to occur, since it seems there will be no repercussions. And unfortunately, since these people are in the middle of the ocean, disposing of crime scene evidence is almost foolproof. Just the simple fact of having sea marshals onboard may deter anyone who was considering committing a crime on the ship.