Tag: "rescue"

Should Carnival pay for the money the US Coast Guard spent rescuing the Triumph cruise ship?

Carnival Corp. says it won’t help the US Coast Guard, even though American taxpayers spent about $780,000 rescuing the Triumph. Carnival’s excuse is that all maritime interests must assist without question those in trouble at sea.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee takes the easy political stance – the big evil corporation should pay or else, “These costs must ultimately be borne by federal taxpayers.” He adds that Carnival appears to pay little or no federal income taxes.

Carnival says its policy is to “honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community.” Carnival claims it frequently aids in rescues at the Coast Guard’s request, including 11 times in the past year in Florida and Caribbean waters.

I suppose Carnival thinks it’s fair. The US Coast Guard doesn’t pay Carnival when the cruise line helps out, so why should the cruise line pay the Coast Guard for any help? On the other hand, Carnival’s ships are not US flagged – CNN said that the Carnival Triumph sails under a Bahamian flag. Is the US required to provide assistance? Sure. Is the US required to provide free assistance to non-US vessels? Maybe not.

The other point worth making is that public opinion is the only leverage the US can really hope for in this case. Clearly the Coast Guard had no choice but to come to the rescue of so many American citizens. Though perhaps next time, they should rescue the people and leave the ship to drift around the ocean. If my car breaks down, I don’t expect a free tow. Why should a huge money-making corporation expect a free tow when their ships break down?

By the way, does anyone know if carnival did anything nice for their employees from the Triumph?