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Miami Cruise Ship Attorneys Discuss Safety of Life At Sea

The notion that passenger ships must have life-saving equipment is over 100 years old. In 1914, two years after the Titanic sank, seafaring countries convened to debate a regulatory scheme designed to increase the survivability of cruise ship accidents. The result is a body of maritime regulations called “Safety of Life At Sea” or “SOLAS.” SOLAS continues to this day. Maritime countries observe SOLAS regulations implemented by the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”).  The IMO is an agency established by the United Nations with a goal toward increasing safety of maritime passenger for passenger ships and merchant ships, decrease pollution, and increasing ship security. The IMO diligently works to improve safety and life-saving features on cruise ships. Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano are experienced cruise ship attorneys who are ready to help if you or a loved one was hurt or killed at sea on a cruise ship.

The sinking of the Titanic taught mariners many hard lessons.  At the initial convention of sea-faring countries that would later become the IMO, thirteen sovereignties reached an agreement on minimum safety measures that each country would implement to increase the safety of passengers and crew.  The scarcity of lifeboats and lifejackets was a major contributor to the Titanic tragedy.  Consequently, the leading regulation agreed-upon by convention attendees related to the number of lifeboats and lifejackets. The regulation dubbed SOLAS’ “fundamental principle,” mandated that no passenger ship carry more people than the number that can fit in lifeboats onboard the cruise ship.  Also, the initial regulations mandated ships stow a lifejacket for each person, including children on board. Additionally, the seminal regulations imposed a duty on the cruise lines to install emergency lighting on board, required certification of the crew to captain a lifeboat, as well as rules regarding the crew mustering and drilling “once a fortnight.”

Times have changed in 102 years, but the need for SOLAS has not diminished.  These days, the IMO has a dual mission: to prevent tragedy and to make accidents more survivable if they are unpreventable. The idea is to implement regulations that increase ships’ ability to withstand damage and to increase safety features so that passengers can survive the accidents if they occur. The goal is to keep passengers and crew safely on board while the ship returns to port. The IMO maintains the old maritime belief that “a ship is its own best lifeboat.”  The IMO expressed a desire for cruise ships to be a self-contained lifeboat and keep all souls safely on board as it returns to port at minimum speed.

Keeping people on board is of paramount importance because the size of the ships today allows for thousands of passengers to travel at once. Safely and quickly getting people who have physical infirmities, the elderly, and children into lifeboats is a hazard.  Additionally, the IMO recognizes the enormity of a search and rescue mission that involves safety evacuation hundreds if not thousands of people from the water.

Fire is a central concern for the cruise lines. Therefore, new SOLAS safety regulations feature designs that create redundant propulsion systems, fire-safe areas for people to gather, easier access to fire extinguishing equipment, more fire alarms, and ventilation systems.  Furthermore, the newest regulations impose a requirement upon cruise lines to improve cold water search and rescue as well as medical facilities on board.

Injuries And Fatalities Still Happen Despite Safety Improvements

Contact the South Florida cruise ship attorneys at Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, the law firm the Miami Herald rated as a top law firm in Miami. The firm also has over 130 years of combined legal experience you can turn to in the event you or someone you love was injured or killed on a cruise ship. Call the Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated cruise ship attorneys from Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano, at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 today to schedule your free consultation.


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