September 20, 2001
Cruise lines beef up security
The International Council of the Cruise Lines (ICCL) today issued a statement noting that "As an industry, we are doing our part [in recovering from the September 11 outrage] by getting back to business and operating our ships and schedules. Over 200,000 American jobs are dependent on the cruise industry and we believe that all people have the right to travel without fear".
"The cruise industry's highest priority has always been, and remains, the safety and security of our guests and crew," says ICCL. "Under normal circumstances our security programs are stringent. In light of recent events we have heightened our level of security even further. Working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the FBI and Interpol, we are ensuring that Americans can exercise their right to travel freely in a safe and secure environment."
The statement notes that cruise ships are inherently secure because they are a controlled environment with limited access. Under normal circumstances security programs are stringent. "But, in light of recent events, we have strengthened those programs even further. In order to maintain an effective and meaningful security environment our member lines have established strict and highly confidential security procedures that cannot, for obvious reasons, be discussed in detail."
Cruise passengers "should be very comfortable" with the additional security measures. They include increased inspections of luggage and carry-on articles, additional security personnel and controls, and the use of canine inspections.
ICCL member lines are working closely with local, state, federal and international authorities such as the port authorities where ICCL ships call, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Interpol. "This will enhance the safety and security of everyone onboard our ships. Additionally, our member lines have Security Officers who are responsible for enforcing security procedures onboard the ship."
At U.S. cruise terminals, port security includes screening procedures similar to those found at airports. These procedures include the use of metal detectors for embarking passengers. Photo identification is required for all guests, crew members and visitors who board any of our ships.
After providing passengers with a check list of measures to expect and steps to be taken, the ICCL says: "Expects some delays and be patient" and concludes:"Enjoy your cruise and have a great vacation."
EC chides France and Ireland for lax post-Erika port state control
The European Commission is today sending reasoned opinions to France and Ireland for failure to comply with the Port State Control Directive that obliges European Union memberstates to inspect at least 25% of the ships entering their ports each year. Tighter controls over ships entering European ports are one of the measures of the Erika I package approved by the Commission following the Erika oil tanker disaster in French territorial waters which polluted over 400 kilometres of the coast of Brittany.
Two years after the Erika disaster, says the Commission, France and Ireland are still not applying the ship inspection rules correctly. The low level of inspection of ships carried out in these two countries' ports runs counter to the priority objective of improving maritime safety set by the EU following the Erika disaster off the coast of France in December 1999.
Consequently, the Commission today decided to send reasoned opinions to France and Ireland to remind them of their legal obligations under the Port State Control Directive.
The Port State inspections carried out by France last year covered only 12.2% (707) of the 5,792 ships which entered French ports. In 1999 France had only inspected 14.1% of the total number of ships entering its ports. France therefore inspected significantly fewer ships in 2000 than in 1999.
Ireland's inspection rate is also very inadequate: only 14.6% (194) of the 1,330 ships entering Irish ports were inspected last year, but that represents an improvement compared with 1999 when only 7.5% of the total number of ships entering Irish ports were inspected.
All other EU states have achieved the 25% target. Some of them have even exceeded it: Belgium 25.6%, Germany 25.9%, Sweden 26.7%, United Kingdom 27.7%, the Netherlands 28.9%, Spain 32.4%, Portugal 33%, Finland 35.3% and Italy 36%.
The first package of measures to tighten up maritime safety rules, Erika I, was approved by the Commission in March 2000. It concerns stricter provisions concerning inspections, tighter control over classification societies and the phasing-out of single-hull oil tankers up to 2015. This package was followed in November 2000 by a second package, christened Erika II, aimed at tighter maritime traffic control, the establishment of a compensation fund for victims and the creation of a maritime safety agency.