MARITIME SECURITY – Varied Actions Taken to Enhance Cruise Ship Security
Cruise ships are the single largest passenger conveyances in the world, with one ship currently in service that can carry more than 8,500 passengers and crew. The Coast Guard considers cruise ships to be highly attractive targets to terrorists, and according to a 2008 RAND Corporation report, cruise ships can represent high-prestige symbolic targets for terrorists. Moreover, terrorists have either targeted cruise ships or been able to board cruise ships in the past. The hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro and killing of passenger Leon Klinghoffer by terrorists in 1985 was a watershed event for the cruise industry, leading to major changes in cruise line security procedures. More recently, in 2005, a plot to attack Israeli cruise ships off of the Turkish Mediterranean coast was discovered after the premature explosion of a bomb that was intended for the attack. A successful attack on a cruise ship in or near U.S. waters that resulted in the closure of a U.S. port or discouraged cruise travel would likely harm the U.S. economy because of the significant economic impact that ports contribute to the U.S. economy. For example, in a 2006 report, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the closure of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would reduce the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by up to $150 million per day. Reduced demand for cruise travel following an attack could also have substantial economic effects as direct spending for goods and services by the cruise lines and their passengers in the United States was about $19.1 billion in 2008.
Author: United States Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Date: April 9, 2010