Marine safety experts are speaking out against an April 1 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to change a provision of a law Congress adopted in 2010 to make water travel safer.
The House passed a Coast Guard reauthorization bill with a provision that will require only newly built ferries and other passenger boats, or vessels that undergo “a major conversion after Jan. 1, 2016,” and are operating in cold water to carry survival craft, such as life rafts, that “ensures that no part of an individual is immersed in water” when abandoning ship.
The provision, which is now being taken up by the Senate, differs from the 2010 law, which would have forced all boats — new or old, and operating in any water temperature — to be outfitted with out-of-the-water survival craft by 2015.
“Those seeking to repeal this requirement are not looking out for the best interest and lives of the public, particularly children, the elderly and the disabled,” John Cullather, former staff director of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, said in a USA Today report.
Cullather helped draft the 2010 law before he retired.