The plight of 4,200 passengers and crew members aboard the disabled Carnival cruise ship Triumph last week highlights a problem the American Flagship Project has been warning about for two decades, according to a Feb. 18 press statement.
“It is true that millions of American passengers have taken a cruise on one of the foreign-built, foreign-owned and foreign-flagged cruise ships without incident. But...is that any reason to turn a blind eye to the possibility of a major disaster, one that will not be handled by U.S. authorities or U.S. courts?” — President Stephanie Gallagher, World City America Inc.
The American Flagship Project, a venture of World City America, Inc. plans to build a series of passenger ships to sail under the American flag, thereby offering passengers and crew members protection under U.S. safety and labor laws.
An engine room fire, which the Coast Guard determined was caused by a fuel leak, left the Triumph drifting on the Gulf of Mexico for five days with limited electricity and failed sewage systems last week. The Carnival Cruise ship sails under the flag of the Bahamas and is subject to Bahamian laws and regulations.
According to World City America, 90 percent of the $40 billion earned annually by the passenger cruise industry comes from American passengers, yet the industry is dominated by foreign-flagged ships. These ships are exempt from American safety, environmental and labor laws and the cruise lines do not pay corporate profit taxes in the United States.
While the U.S. coast guard will be involved with the investigation of the Triumph debacle, the government of the Bahamas will take the lead in determining liability, and Bahamian courts will decide the fate of passengers that file complaints against Carnival.
The American Flagship Project claims that foreign-flagged ships have a financial advantage over American flagged ships and urges the U.S. Congress to address the situation. Families planning a cruise vacation can determine under which flag their ship sails at the Shiplist.net website.