News & Articles

Revisiting the Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute After the P/V Conception Tragedy

February 9, 2022

Since the inception of 18 U.S.C. § 1115 and its predecessor, commonly known as the Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute (the “Statute”), many seafarers and shoreside personnel having duties to perform connected to management and navigation of a vessel have been subject to the lenient standard of simple negligence for the unintentional death of passengers or crew aboard vessels. As of the date of this article, there have been at least thirty-two indictments against ship’s officers, pilots, owners, and vessel management employees pursuant the Statute.1 With the most recent indictment of the captain of the P/V Conception, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, ship’s officers, vessel owners and operators should revisit their own responsibilities pertaining to the safety of a vessel’s passengers and crew.