The US is a step closer to approving laws which would make public statistics on criminal activity targeted at passengers at sea, it has been announced.

Under the new Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act, ships must report the number of people raped, robbed or lost at sea.

The House TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure committee’s unanimous approval of the measure, following a Senate committee’s passage, has now cleared the way for a vote in both chambers shortly after Congress returns from its summer break in August.

The shipping industry has so far refused to release data to the public on such crimes making the actual crime rate aboard vessels unknown, writes Associated Press.

If the law is passed, passenger ships will also have to carry anti-retroviral medicine to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The law will also mean ships will be required to modernise video surveillance technology, install peep holes, security latches and time-sensitive locks on all guest rooms to protect guests.

The US Secretary of Transportation plans to launch a new website to report the number of crimes, their nature and if passengers or crew members are implicated.

The website will be updated quarterly and every cruise line must provide a link to the crime statistics page.