NTSB to hold cruise ship safety forum



After a tumultuous few years for the cruise industry — which included a deadly accident in Italy and ship fires on voyages that departed North American ports — the National Transportation Safety Board is holding a two-day forum on cruise ship safety.

Scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C., the forum will address issues surrounding regulation of the industry; accident investigations; ship design and fire protection; ship operations; emergency response and corporate oversight.

While the agency regularly holds forums addressing safety issues, this is the first time the cruise industry has been the focus, NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

“Because the cruise ship industry is worldwide, and has sort of a diverse oversight structure that’s international in scope, we felt that maybe we could add something to the conversation by bringing everyone together,” Weiss said.

The NTSB added passenger vessel safety to its “top 10” list of most-wanted improvements in transportation for this year.

Speakers will include representatives from regulatory bodies including the International Maritime Organization and U.S. Coast Guard; Miami-based operators Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line; classification society Det Norske Veritas; and other groups related to safety.

The International Cruise Victims Association, which is not represented on any panel, submitted a 51-page report on safety, operations and oversight. In a press release earlier this month, the organization expressed disappointment about not being included in the meetings, saying “the victims and the maritime experts working with ICV should not be excluded because they have much to contribute to understanding the safety issues on cruise ships.”

Weiss said the association was invited to add information to the meeting’s docket and said the focus of the event was specifically on safety.

“Security and crime is not in our jurisdiction,” he said. “This is about cruise ship safety, not security.”

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