With enigmatic tales of missing persons and suggestions of covert criminal activity, the mainstream media often allows certain commentators to portray the cruise industry as a conspiracy of corruption. Do these cruise industry detractors have a leg to stand on, or are they solely straw men with frail support trying to scare the most gullible and uninformed readers?
At this year’s Cruise Shipping Miami conference (a.k.a. Seatrade) I witnessed a very enlightening conversation about the reality of safety and security at sea with Dominick A. Froio, Jr., Vice President of Security Services and Company Security Officer for Carnival Cruise Lines.
A panel was convened to explore shipboard security and surveillance. It explored the new mandates for cruise ship video surveillance required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act just passed in 2010. The Act states that each vessel must have a number of live video cameras constantly recording the activities in several locations throughout the ship. Any activities which even suggest the occurrence of a crime must be preserved for federal agencies ashore. While there are, as of yet, no specifics indicating exactly how much camera coverage is required under the act, Carnival has already proactively deployed special thermal imaging cameras across its entire fleet to watch the exterior of its ships day and night.
The Benefits of Thermal Imaging
Over the years we have witnessed a troubling pattern on cruise ships. Some passengers come onboard in an unknowable state of mind, and the sad reality is that a small number of them attempt to commit suicide by jumping overboard every year. Dominick is fully aware of the media distortion when they report on people “falling from cruise ships,” so he wants the world to know that there are also plenty of instances where his crews have struggled to pull people away from railings, heroically averting suicide attempts and rescuing these passengers. The number of such rescues has been greatly enhanced by the new camera systems that have been installed on Carnival ships.
Dominick says that “conspiracy-theory” suggestions that these passengers went overboard because someone lifted them over the railings are personally “hurtful” to him and his crew, especially in instances where the cameras record the real event. It is the policy of the cruise lines not to divulge any details surrounding suicides in order to respect and protect the privacy of the victims’ families, but it would help the cruise lines if the public realized that these events are not crimes. With these new thermal imaging cameras, everyone will now know the truth surrounding these “people falling from cruise ships” stories with complete video documentation.
There are even more advantages. The new thermal imaging has been proven invaluable in other maritime rescues. Dominick was thrilled to share the story of how the Carnival Victory was able to confirm the location of a man stranded aboard a capsized catamaran for three days in the Caribbean. A passenger onboard the Victory as well as the night vision of the cameras had spotted the man floating past the ship a half hour past midnight on March 5, 2012 – allowing Carnival to aid and direct the U.S. Coast Guard to the man’s exact location and ultimate rescue.
IMAGE SOURCE: CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES