Below Deck Med's Conrad Empson Exposes Huge Danger in Yachting – and How It's About to Get a Lot Safer (Exclusive)

Conrad Empson from Below Deck Mediterranean revealed that criminal background checks on crew typically aren’t done, which leaves other crew members and guests vulnerable.

Crew agencies and captains may scrutinize crew members for tattoos, experience, and yachting certifications. But a cursory criminal background check simply isn’t commonplace in the industry. Empson said not making a criminal background check a priority can have devastating consequences.

“Have you heard the story about a girl in Florida? She got raped by the chef onboard the yacht,” Empson recalled to Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “He went off, got drunk. And she got raped by him.” He added that the chef had prior convictions, which would have been important information to have had during the hiring process.

Empson now works as a project manager for a superyacht security company and hopes a new initiative will change how the crew are screened in the future. And horrific instances about crew (or guests) in danger are eliminated from the industry.

Conrad Empson from ‘Below Deck Med’ said criminal background checks on crew simply aren’t done

Empson described how he started exploring the notion that crew background checks usually aren’t done in the industry. “So I dealt with the installation of all the security systems on big, big superyachts,” he explained. “So, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing the last three years. And I still am involved in the yachting industry.”

“And that’s kind of led me on to what I’m doing now,” he continued. “Which is, we obviously deal with the security system superyachts. But we got approached a lot of times to do background checks on crew members. And it’s not something that we really did unless it was like a high-profile client.”

“We were under the impression that all of the crew agencies did it, but it wasn’t the case,” he said. “So about 10 months ago, we obviously kind of started sounding this out within the industry. And background checks, like criminal background checks, aren’t done on the crew at all. My boss came to me and asked me about it, and was like, ‘Did this get done?’ And I was like, ‘Never. Never in my entire time working in the industry, it’s never done.’ And we did more research into it.”

Conrad Empson’s company wants to support crew and crew agencies

The recently launched start-up has selected First Advantage – a leading global provider of technology solutions for screening, verifications, safety and compliance related to human capital.

“The CrewPass accreditation scheme includes background checks, criminal record checks, ID verification checks and soon to be launched automated Certificate of Competence checks through the MCA,” according to a release.

“A  simple sign-up process by the individual crew member allows CrewPass to verify their identity and to conduct enhanced global criminal background checks, helping vessels, crew agencies and management companies ensure that only fully vetted individuals are allowed on board.”

Background checks mean a safer yachting experience for everyone

Empson said the goal is to ensure crew and guest safety. “[Crew] hear the most private conversations with [the guests’] family, children, and stuff,” he said. “It’s mind-boggling because they spend so much money on security systems and security. But the closest thing – crew – they haven’t even thought about.”

“So we do an enhanced criminal record check at the highest level,” he added. “And what we do is we check over the criminal record and see if there’s anything that is anything to worry about. And then if there is something to worry about, then we decline them. However, if we find everything’s OK, they get an approved stamp. And what they can do is they can then go take this to any major crew agency or vessel to say, ‘Hey, guys, these are all my certificates, and here is my CrewPass accreditation. So you know that nothing because nothing has been found that’s been untoward.’”

Crew agencies like Viking Crew and Bespoke Crew support this accreditation as an industry standard, according to CrewPass.

Interested individuals, vessels, and crew agencies can utilize the company’s subscription services to enhance their vetting process instantly. CrewPass can also be reached through any of its social media handles on Linkedin,  Facebook, and Instagram. 

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