Congressman Garamendi looking into cruise safety

Carnival TriumphLooking for answers in wake of Carnival Triumph disaster

by Brian Leubitz

It isn’t an area of particular focus for this blog, yet cruise ships are regular sights on California’s coast. And while most of the cruises departing from our ports are heading for quick jaunts up or down the coast, some routes head off for Hawaii, several days on the open sea.

I’ll also admit that some of my interest in this stems from the fact that my parents were scheduled to be on the Carnival Triumph just a week and a half after the engines exploded. In addition to the extreme danger that those passengers faced while drifting on the sea, let’s just say that my mother does not take kindly to poor treatment from business that she patronizes. I still vividly remember the day when she led the charge for her money back when Malcom X stopped halfway through the movie.

But I digress. Rep Garamendi, as Ranking Member of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, sent a letter (PDF) to the Chairs and Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee asking for a hearing on cruise ship safety. The letter was sent in the wake of serious mishaps with the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH cruise ship. About the request, he said the following:

The magnitude of serious mishaps on cruises in recent years deserves a thoughtful deliberative inquiry by the Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the industry. I’m requesting a hearing on cruise ship safety, because Congress has a responsibility to ensure that U.S. consumers and travelers are as safe as possible while at sea – regardless of what country the vessel is registered in.

“We must answer four questions: are U.S. laws and regulations being followed and enforced; are these measures written in an effective manner to accomplish for their stated goals; is the Coast Guard’s cruise ship inspection regime strong enough to protect U.S. passengers from non-compliant cruise ship operators; and what role should Federal oversight and enforcement play in ensuring the safety of American citizens?

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) has also called for a hearing after the Triumph debacle. These ships are now getting so large that they are essentially small towns on the seas. They are, for the most part, quite safe. However, when something goes wrong, it tends to go very wrong. Both California Representatives are attempting to ensure that we can limit these incidents in every possible way.