Category Archives: Sailing

Cruise Ship security comes under scrutiny

The US Senate is hot on the trail of security aboard cruise ships. Security Management reports:

Because cruise ships operate in international waters or the jurisdictions of foreign countries, they are required to report crimes to the FBI or the U.S. Coast Guard. However, because the ship might be miles from the closest federal officials, it often takes days for the FBI to arrive to investigate a scene. In that time, the investigation can be undermined. Witnesses noted that evidence can disappear, victims can be intimidated, and suspects can be coached. Also, the cruise industry is not required to disclose crime statistics, making it difficult to assess the rate of shipboard incidents

That sounds like what most IT environments used to be like before laws like California’s SB1386 were passed.

Just last year I had to argue with company executives about an investigation after a telecommunications breach where they wanted to destroy evidence. They had “back-to-business” fever and wanted to move on in life as quickly as possible. Without outside governance, it can be almost impossible to get a person driven by sales numbers and pride to stop and dwell on a fault or flaw, especially when harm is externalized.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the subcommittee chairman, noted that the cruise industry lacks mandatory, standardized procedures to prevent and respond to criminal acts on board ships. Terry Dale, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, stated that mandatory procedures were unnecessary because cruise lines implemented voluntary processes to protect passengers.

Where have I heard that before? This is the “trust us” line of reasoning, which is based on an toothless promise. What penalty exists if voluntary measures, even when documented clearly, are not followed? None, of course, because there is no penalty mechanism in volunteerism without governance. A more logical response from Dale (well, from a security professional perspective) would be that governance is welcome because he understands the safety and security needs of customers and is ready to address their concerns directly and with accountability.

The problem with hiding behind toothless volunteerism and not taking a more proactive approach to regulation is that a law could be passed anyway, but without collaborative input. This just wastes everyone’s time.

Bill S.3204 is now under consideration with numerous security measures:

…peep holes, security latches on cabin doors, and CCTV. The bill would require that all ships have crew members aboard who are trained in crime scene investigation. Cruise lines would be required to report all incidents of criminal activity to the Coast Guard, who would then make that information available to the public via the Internet. Under the bill, members of the Coast Guard would be dispatched to cruise ships to ensure that they comply with the law.

Sounds reasonable to me, although it raises the issue of who will be responsible for the privacy of passengers under the surveillance system. Can you trust the same crew already under suspicion of unethical and criminal behavior. Lets hope screening is used and privacy controls are in place to prevent new information security violations from adding fuel to the fire.

Olympic Sailing

NBC has a nice page dedicated to the sailing events at the 2008 Olympics. I almost never see any coverage or even mention of the sailing events:

Up to 3,000 categories of sailboats reportedly exist around the world, each class with its own set of rules and specifications. At the Olympics, 11 events are contested in nine different types of boats. Boats compete in fleet races, with each regatta lasting a series of days.

Good luck to my fellow A-Class catamaran sailors Charlie and Johnny! You can donate to their campaign if you want to give support to today’s top American sailors.

The Tornado is my favorite Olympic boat by far. It remains on the forefront of wind-power technology, even though it was introduced in the late 1960s.

Appropriately named, the Tornado responds immediately to wind and waves, and is all about speed. The only multi-hull in the Games, its light weight and large sail area make it the fastest Olympic boat, reaching 30-knots. The Tornado is highly susceptible to capsizing and the crew must have quick reflexes in order to keep the boat afloat.

The Tornado is the only open class boat at the Games, meaning both men and women compete in the event. It was designed in Great Britain in 1966 specifically for Olympic competition, and first appeared at the Games ten years later. Its design has been revised over the years to optimize speed and technology.

After a vote among national governing bodies, the International Sailing Federation decided in late 2007 that the Tornado would make its last appearance at the 2008 regatta, and would not be on the roster for the 2012 Games in London.

Oh, well. Who knows what the stodgy old white men in blue blazers of the ISAF were thinking when they decided to cancel the Tornado program. They probably did not want men and women sailing together on a team. Or maybe they just thought sail boats should not be exciting machines in and of themselves. The London races will be sailed in oak barrels and bathtubs.

The US Tornado team is using radical a new sail design specifically meant to enhance efficiency in the conditions in China. Should be fun to watch.