Sunday, January 15, 2012

Costa Concordia Runs Agrounds - Passengers Dead and Missing - Some Thoughts and An Update

With a Korean couple on their honeymoon, the Italian Purser (with broken leg and suffering from hypothermia) rescued from the ship and the number of missing reduced to 17 ovenight, I want to provide you with some thoughts...knowing that everything you and I read ultimately is not going to be found to be 100% accurate.  (So don't take my comments as gospel, please.)

News reports are painting a picture of Francesco Schettino as an absolute, if not arrogant, captain. 

Captain Francesco Schettino is quoted as saying he was the last to leave the ship.  Forgetting the stories to the contrary, I am seeing a situation where 50 people were reported missing and, so far, 3 people were rescued.  The ship had no risk of capsizing and I am not aware of any order from the Italian Coast Guard for him to abandon the ship, so why would have have left his command?  I know captains that would have been leading the search and rescue...without hesitation (and probably ignorning any such order to leave the ship).

Captain Francesco Schettino is quoted as saying his charts did not identify the "rock" that tore a 160 foot gash into the the hull of the Costa Concordia.  Folks, today ships require more than paper charts; as electronic charts are not only used, but heavily relied upon...and interface with autopilots, GPS and radars.  And, by the way, those electronic charts are custom made for the Costa Concordia.

And, by the way, what of local knowledge of an extremely rocky coastline and then trying to pass a huge cruise ship between two large rocky outcrops?  It makes no sense to me.

OK, that said, the reports are that the ship was 2.5 nautical miles off course...a course that she had repeatedly taken on her prior voyages (according to crew members).  So far he has not provided any reason for this.  It has been speculated that he wanted to bring the ship into shallower water, but that - so far - makes no sense.  Why?

1.  If you look at the charts, this alleged course to shallower water was not the most direct.

2.  The ship's design is such that water-tight doors, if properly closed, would have prevented the flooding of the ship, so there would be no reason for this.  While I do not know what happened on this ship, it is a notorious problem of lazy crewman propping open these heavy watertight doors rather than turning those big wheel-like closures and pushing and pulling these heavy doors.

I don't have all the information, but cruising significantly off-course, blaming charts that are used by thousands of others, apparently failing to use common nautical sense, and seemingly having abandoned his ship (whether technically permitted or not) does not sit well with me.  When the failure of safety systems is added, it is most troubling.

I am seeing this as "human errors" and the result of what happens when a ship is run arrogantly rather than as if 5,000 souls and half a billion dollars are at stake.

Join the conversation.  Let us know your thoughts.  Ask your questions.  Comment on The Gold Standard Luxury Travel Forum.