Congress Sneaked Through Passenger Ship Safety Cuts, Handcuffs Coast Guard Inspections, Maritime Writer Says

A little known rider slipped into legislation now delays deploying devices that helped save crew of Bounty

Feb 18, 2013, 08:00 ET from Robert R. Frump

NEW YORK, Feb. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- In the confusion of Fiscal Cliff 2012 negotiations, Congress slipped through a measure that delays and may forever prohbiit safety requirements for passenger vessels, Robert R. Frump, a noted maritime writer and author says in his blog.

The measure, which the Passenger Vessel Association takes credit for, requires that the Coast Guard continue to study the use of modern out-of-the-water survival devices.  This in effect keeps them from applying new standards to thousands passenger vessels equipped with old fashioned life saving rings. 

The out-of-water devices hold people up and out of the water, giving them a better chance to fight hypohtermia. Old fashioned life rings submerge one's body core into water, which even at mild temperatures quickly can kill. 

Such devices helped save many of the crew members of the Bounty.  Just two months after the Bounty sank during storm Sandy, Congress essentially deleted the Coast Guard effort to require such devices on more and more passenger vessels such as whale watch boats, tourist DUKWs, fishing charter vessels and others. 

"This is isn't a study, it's a stall," Frump writes. "The studies can last years and years more.

"If you want another study, just watch the last reel of Titanic.  She is out of the water and lives. He's in the water and dies.  in, dies. Out, lives. Study over."

"I reported on this same sort of safety issue nearly 30 years ago to this date when I covered the wreck of the SS Marine Electric," Frump said.  "They said then that inspections and survival suits were too much of an expense.  That's what they are saying now.

"If you can't invest in effective, affordable life-saving gear for your passengers, you have no business transporting them,"  Frump said. "Torpedoing these safety measures after such a clear example of their success in the Bounty rescue is a huge mistake."

Frump is a nationally recognized journalist who, with Tim Dwyer, received the George Polk Award for his coverage of maritime safety.  He also received the Gerald Loeb Award for national business reporting and was a member of a Pulitzer Prize winning task force at The Philadelphia Inquirer. 

He has written two maritime books, Until the Sea Shall Free Them, about the wreck of the Marine Electric, and Two Tankers Down, about a famous Coast Guard rescue off Cape Cod in 1952.  

His stories about the Marine Electric helped prompt some of the biggest reforms in US maritime history.  Inspections were toughened and more than 70 old World War II ships were scrapped. Suvival suits were requiried in the North Atlantic.  And the now famous Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers school was created. 

"Many of the 31 men who died in the Marine Electric tragedy died because they were in the water," Frump said. "Two of the three survivors were able to get themselves partially out of the water. "

Media Contact: Robert Frump, Race Point Productions, Inc., 9085147709,

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SOURCE Robert R. Frump