The doomed Costa Concordia with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, partially capsized on the night of 13 January 2012, close to the island of Giglio, after the captain performed a risky maneuver which caused it to crash into rocks near the shore, tearing a huge hole in its side. News / The Guardian Podcast

This week on her podcast, Ryn “The Guardian” Melberg cites crime against passengers on the high seas as a place that could very much use a strong dose of improved corporate governance. To hear her weekly podcast click here and go straight to the Ryn Melberg iTunes page.

The cruise industry has some troubling issues. There are odd and mysterious disappearances on-board cruise ships that go unreported and therefore unnoticed by members of the vacationing public. The cruise industry has a well-documented history of stonewalling investigations of crimes that occur on their vessels. According to Ryn, “there are a number of troubling details about the cruise ship industry, such as that they “take the legal position that they are under no obligation to investigate a crime,” whether it be a disappearance, sexual assault, or robbery,” she said during her weekly podcast. There were many symptoms about what ails the once glamorous cruise industry.

Foreign Ship Registry

The cruise industry makes a practice of “gaming” the legal system when it comes to U.S. Maritime Law. “Some of the laws that govern these cruise lines are hundreds of years old, even 600 years old,” Melberg said. “Most people who book a vacation on a cruise line are not aware that once they board that ship, their rights as an American citizen are lost and that they are governed by the laws of the country in which the ship is registered, often Liberia.”

The doomed Costa Concordia with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, partially capsized on the night of 13 January 2012, close to the island of Giglio, after the captain performed a risky maneuver which caused it to crash into rocks near the shore, tearing a huge hole in its side.

The doomed Costa Concordia with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard, partially capsized on the night of 13 January 2012, close to the island of Giglio, after the captain performed a risky maneuver which caused it to crash into rocks near the shore, tearing a huge hole in its side.

To make things more difficult, many former high ranking FBI and Coast Guard officials find employment with cruise ship companies when their government careers end, and, thus, those agencies frequently work against efforts to hold the industry accountable for these crimes. But there is more to the story than that. “There is quite a revolving door of employees who work in security for these lines,” Melberg said. “Often, they are promised a role in which they will be allowed to help clean up the industry, but leave when they find that is not the case at all and that their duties are geared to covering up bad performance.”

On Line Accounting

There are web sites devoted to the bad behavior of cruise lines which include: http://www.internationalcruisevictims.org and http://www.cruiselawnews.com.

The Coast Guard and the FBI keep statistics but those are thought to be low, as the cruise industry is not known to be as forthcoming as it might be. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, “Physical and sexual assault is a serious problem that creates significant challenges for vessel medical staff and vessel security personnel as they attempt to treat the victim and collect evidence for legal purposes.”

“Passengers on cruise vessels have an inadequate appreciation of their potential vulnerability to crime while on ocean voyages,” Melberg said. “Those who may be victimized often lack the information they need to understand their legal rights or to know whom to contact for help in the immediate aftermath of the crime.” In short, Melberg believes that the industry needs to come together and agree on better governance and transparency as part of their responsibility to the people who trust their lives and the lives of their families aboard these vessels.”

About Ryn The Guardian Melberg

Ryn Melberg has a multifaceted perspective having served as COO, strategic advisor and CTO, helping organizations change their business model to support growth, respond to changing market conditions, and crisis management. Worked for global leaders including but not limited to American Express, JPMorganChase, and Credit Suisse. She combines her financial acumen, operations experience and people/culture leadership skills to operationalize strategic imperatives, often complex and cross functional. Expertise in mergers and acquitions and successful integration. Change leader with experience identifying cultural obstacles and perception of threatened interests at time of change.

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