COAST GUARD REJECTS CRUISE RECOMMENDATION

COAST GUARD REJECTS CRUISE RECOMMENDATION

The Coast Guard has rejected the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendation that the United States impose its own safety regulations on foreign-flag cruise vessels that call on U.S. ports.

In a letter to the NTSB that was released Wednesday, Adm. P.A. Yost, Coast Guard commandant, conceded that safety problems do exist aboard cruise ships. But he wrote that he preferred to work through international maritime organizations rather than have the United States act unilaterally to improve safety.A source at the NTSB said, however, that international organizations might take too long to ratify strong safety rules. "We don't want a Scandinavian Star here," the source said of the recent fire that took over a hundred lives aboard a cruise ship in Europe.

But Capt. David Witten, deputy chief of the Coast Guard's marine safety office, said, "We have to recognize that Americans sail on cruise ships all over the world. Our goal is to raise the standards internationally."

However, Adm. Yost agreed with NTSB recommendations that a majority of the crew speak a common language and that sprinklers and other advanced fire- protection devices be installed. The Coast Guard will bring up those NTSB concerns at meetings of the International Maritime Organization, Adm. Yost promised.