ICV president Kendall Carver, who co-founded the organization with Greenwich's Smith family, said Congress directed the cruise lines to work with ICV after the third government hearing on cruise ship safety on March 27. The new initiative between ICV and CLIA was held during the week of July 30 in Washington, D.C.
Carver said ICV presented a proposal for greater transparency and safety onboard cruise ships, which includes a plan for an independent security force. Carver, a 70-year-old former Darien resident who now lives in Phoenix, said ICV would work with Congress to enact the reforms. ICV has been closely allied with U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, who said he is currently drafting "a bipartisan legislative proposal."
Shays initiated the first cruise ship safety hearing in December 2005, as a result of the disappearance of George Smith, 26, of Greenwich, who vanished from his Royal Caribbean honeymoon cruise on July 5, 2005. ICV also recommends an independent security force police on cruise ships since a conflict of interest may arise when a crewmember commits a crime. Carver compared this kind of security force to the sky marshal program on airlines, and cited the "additional concern of terrorism."
The proposed reforms will be presented at an upcoming hearing in late September, Carver said, and he hopes to see "significant" support for the plan from both members of the House and Senate.
"We've come a long way and I'm pleased with our progress," Carver said. "But we are up against an industry with a lot of money."
In the 2000 election cycle, the cruise lines gave more than $1 billion in political contributions to candidates and political parties, according to opensecrets.org. The Center for Responsive politics also reported that the industry spent more than $2.9 million on federal lobbying from January 2004 to July 2005.
Still, Carver believes that the power of ICV lies in the victims' stories. "Anyone who hears our stories can't ignore them," he said.
In our posting on August 10. 2005, we called for independent law officers for each ship in the form of "Sea Marshalls.':
Safe Cruise: Congressional Hearings Needed on Cruise Ship Safety & Security Project: Safe Cruise: Coming in 2007: PROJECT SAFE CRUISE>