Ever since the terror attacks of 9/11, America has lived under a heightened fear of terrorist activity on home soil. This concern has impacted all aspects of life, from longer lines at the airport, to often unfounded racial profiling. For better or worse, cruise ships have also been impacted by the need for increased security.
When you think about it, cruises offer the perfect opportunity for ill-meaning individuals to make a statement. Once they leave port, cruises are relatively contained, keeping large numbers of passengers and employees in tight quarters on the open sea. This presents the perfect opportunity for a terror attack or hostage situation to take place.
On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, KABC reported that fears of a terrorist attack have made security at the port of Los Angeles a top priority. The Port of Los Angeles is an active port, with millions of dollars of cargo coming in and out on a daily basis. Although there are no recently reported threats to cargo or cruise ships, law enforcement there believes that it is far better to plan ahead than to be caught off guard.
In order to ensure the safety of passengers upon departing cruise vessels, Los Angeles Port Police, U.S. Customs, the Coast Guard, federal air marshals and the internal security forces from the cruise line collaborate on a carefully choreographed security operation.
The challenge lies in ensuring a balance between the security forces that passengers see and the ones that they do not. No one wants to board a cruise that looks more like a police state than a vacation. However, a certain level of visibility is necessary to deter possible threats.
Once all passengers have been screened and have boarded, the cruise can depart, leaving port police to jump from the ship to a waiting escort boat. At that point, the safety of passengers lies solely in the hands of internal cruise line security.
Safety as a First Priority
While we appreciate the heightened screening procedures at port, it is unwise to assume that the danger of a threat diminishes after a ship sets sail. The smartest criminals can always devise ways to slip past screenings. Thus, we are left to wonder how secure your cruise ships really are?
Is your cruise ship prepared to deal with a possible attack from within? This is the question on all of our minds, now. After all, we trust that the Port of Los Angeles is taking the steps it feels necessary to ensure your security. But, as of now, we are yet to hear of any increased security aboard cruise ships themselves.
One thing we can say for certain, the very last thing that any cruise line wants to happen is to have any type of terrorist incident aboard its ships. Having said that, the cruise lines are routinely able to avoid any type of true regulation by U.S. government authorities. Thus, the cruising public is left to rely almost entirely on any given cruise lines’ internal efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.
Naturally, these are not issues you want to contemplate before taking a dream vacation. However, we believe that it is always best to be informed and aware, so that you can best protect your family and yourself. But if you are ever injured aboard a ship, a maritime lawyer is here to help.