Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Cruise disaster could have larger lessons

Posted on | January 27, 2012 | 3 Comments

I noticed an article from Melissa Bert, a USCG captain, that asks some interesting questions about Costa Concordia, current safety regs and training procedures.

The Costa Concordia grounding is a stark reminder that sea travel remains dangerous. A modern cruise ship sailing a routine route in beautiful weather ran
aground in a matter of minutes, leaving at least 15 people dead.

About 15 million people took a cruise last year, and they are asking tough questions. Are the massive
passenger vessels stable enough to withstand a grounding or collision? Are their international crews capable of
coordinating rapid evacuations of thousands of people? Who oversees the operations of these vessels?

To read the remainder of this articles please visit _have_larger_lessons.html

or the Baltimore Sun/The Philadelphia Inquirer, 24th Jan.


3 Responses to “Cruise disaster could have larger lessons”

  1. Chris Allport (Retd Captain, FNI)
    January 27th, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    Clay,Melissa Bert makes some very relevant points in her excellent article, however the existing regulatory systems clearly and disastorously failed.A reckless Captain was not the only cause. Any enquiry needs to determine the root cause. Why was the deviation in course to pass Giglio at a clearly unsafey distance not challenged by the bridge team? Why didn’t Costa challenge this distance off after the earlier “showboating” episode in August 2011? Were formal navigational risk assessments carried out by Costa or onboard to determine the hazards associated with passing this rocky island at such close proximity? Why didn’t RINA pick up these weaknesses in their annual ISM internal audits? How was it that the Costa Concordia has an clean port state inspection record since 2006? There are so many questions to be addressed by the “official” investigation, even before they get to the loss of intact stabilty, evacuation and LSA equipment adequacy.For the safety of cruise ship passengers in the future this enquiry must promptly consider all these issues to avoid another disaster of this magnitude, possibly in worse weather and in open waters remote from rescue services. The maritime fraternity has a duty to ensure that this matter is not closed until all these questions have been adequately addressed and effective corrective actions implemented.

  2. Rochelle Robinson
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:30 am

    Crises in shipping industries may result in lost reputation, reduced customer confidence, reduced revenues, disrupted operations, mayhem, confusion; all of which are potentially seriously damaging to the mission and bottom-line of the specific entity involved. Crises can have a ripple effect of more crises by adding financial loss, interfering with operations, dissuading purchase intentions, or spiraling lawsuits related to the crisis.

    It is therefore incumbent on the role of the directors, public relations, human resource departments or any other department responsible for press release and media response to apply effective communications management that not only addresses the organizational response to the crisis and determine the kind of communication through the media will be handled, but more importantly, special attention must be made to the timing, the technique and the tone of RESPONSE to the Crisis.

    There are so many lessons to be learned from Costa disaster.

    Rochelle Robinson

  3. ERICH
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    Good points on the Concordia grounding, why indeed didn’t the ISM audit pick up on the close August approach, deviation from voyage plans not part of the audit package? Good chance that the “deviation” was not noted on an updated plan either time, electronic or paper,what about the log entries? Do the Italians have the same equivalent of offcieal vs deck log as US vessels do?. BRM challenging the master…even on US flag vessels I have sailed with reckless masters. A third or second officer challenging in any but a appeasing conciliatory tone, “suggested reconsideration” of track, plan, speed is frequently met by a condescending response; and once frowned upon, the deck offcers’ tenure aboard could be numbered. PSC inspections dockside, even in the US, do not go into the specifics of voyage planning etc, just the basic functionalty and presence of equipment, software and pubs and drills. ISM audits should have caught it if the time frame captured the Aug 2011 transit period. As for formal navigational risk assessments carried out onboard, is usually reduced to a short meeting between the second offcer and master. The second officer ends up complying or if he/she wants to take it to the next level insist that their compliance under protest be logged in the offcial log, yet another career killer for the junior officer. There is of course the ability of contacting the DPA (designated person ashore), possibly effective, possibly feared, possibly, though anonymous could backfire for all involved. The alternative is to strip the master of authority and make them a glorifed bus driver ‘manager’. We’re already headed down the road of MSC “suggested” shoreside control of vessel movements apart form the constant e-mail barrage the mastwer must entertain daily from ashore…a catastrophic demise of the independence of vessels and crew in the shipping industry. So what’s the answer? IMOs and various Flag States will suggest yet Another knee jerk imposition of a raft of redundant and numbing regulations to replace those old fashioned traits we expected of masters and shipboard offcers in the past, duty, integrity, virtue and common sense. Sounds like a wonderful tradeoff!

    In response to the previous article on April disasters and the Empress of Ireland:
    The greatest maritime tragedies are always forgotten, especially those involving our former enemies. the Titanic shouldn’t rate honorable mention in comparison. The WWII German liners used in the evacuation “Operation Hannibal” orchestrated by Admiral Doenitz in 1944/45. Among the Soviet submarine victims Wilhelm Gustloff, Goya, and General Von Steuban, over 2,000,000 people were transported from certain death or Soviet slave labor by fleets that make the Dunkirk evacuation trivial in comparison. Out of the total number rescued, between 25,000 to 30,000 lives were lost, the majority with the sinking of the Gustloff and the Goya with a combined total of over 15,000 deaths.


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