Cruise safety subject of House subcommittee hearing

In what could be the first of many Congressional actions spurred by the Costa Concordia incident, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) said today his committee would conduct a hearing to review cruise ship safety in February.

“The Costa Concordia tragedy is a wakeup call for the United States and international maritime organizations to carefully review and make certain we have in place all appropriate standards to ensure passengers’ safety on cruise ships,” Mica said.  “In general, cruise travel is a safe form of transportation and an important jobs provider for the nation’s economy.  Congress must closely examine how this incident occurred and address questions raised regarding vessel safety and operating standards and crew training requirements.  The Committee will review the events of this specific incident, current safety measures and training requirements set by law and international maritime transportation agreements to ensure this mode of transportation remains as safe as possible.”

Mica has asked Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) to help lead the review and preliminary investigations in preparation for a hearing to be planned for February.

“Although it is early in the investigatory process, it appears the Costa Concordia was a preventable tragedy,” LoBiondo said.  “The Committee and Subcommittee will use this hearing to review current U.S. laws and regulations in an effort to ensure a similar tragedy does not occur aboard vessels calling on American ports.”

Mica continued, “The cruise industry has grown dramatically over the past 25 years, providing not only enjoyable, affordable opportunities for travelers, but also a huge economic boost for parts of the U.S. and throughout the world.  We must ensure that vessel safety and operating standards and crew training requirements are adequate and adequately enforced and that the millions of Americans who board these ships are kept safe.”

On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia, with approximately 4,200 individuals on board, including more than 120 U.S. citizens, crashed into an undetermined object off the coast of Italy.  The ship suffered a 160-foot gash in its hull, causing it to rapidly keel over and partially submerge.  Rescue efforts for those still unaccounted for are ongoing, and two Americans remain missing.  According to reports, the ship’s captain overrode a pre-programmed course and is being charged in Italy with manslaughter and abandoning ship before passengers were evacuated.

 

January 18, 2012