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It’s official: US Senate Committee sets its own Concordia hearing

It’s official: US Senate Committee sets its own Concordia hearing

Cruise Lines International Association’s Christine Duffy, industry critic Ross Klein and PortMiami director Bill Johnson are among the witnesses scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing on Costa Concordia. The hearing follows, by one day, a House Subcommittee hearing on cruise ship safety.

The Senate Committee, chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, will review whether current cruise industry regulations sufficiently protect passengers and the environment.

The tone sounds more aggressive than the ‘lessons learned from the Costa Concordia accident’ approach of the hearing by the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

In addition to CLIA president and ceo Duffy; Klein, a professor of social work at St. Johns College, Memorial University; and Miami port chief Johnson, witnesses include Capt. William Doherty, director of maritime relations, NEXUS Consulting Group, who is calling for a host of amendments to toughen the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2010.

That legislation primarily deals with the height of railings on ships, video surveillance, peep holes and safety latches in cabin doors, care for alleged victims of sexual assault and the reporting of crimes at sea.

Doherty has described that act as ‘well intentioned’ but he thinks it lacks teeth in enforcement, financing and prosecution requirements, and he would broaden its scope substantially. In a recently published opinion piece, he also said the act lacks strict criminal penalties ‘for the reckless abandonment demonstrated in the MV Costa Concordia disaster.’

Another witness will be Vice Adm. Brian Salerno, deputy commandant for operations, US Coast Guard.

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. March 1.

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