Thursday, July 5, 2012

Costa Concordia - As I Said, "Watertight Doors Were Left Open". Where Was The Captain's Oversight?

In the past few days a significant amount of information has been released about the Costa Concordia incident. 

One focus is on the watertight doors.  As I wrote in my January 15, 2012 article just after the accident and then again in my January 17, 2012 article, "Captain Schettino of the Costa Concordia - No Duty. No Pride. No Wonder:

But the thing that really gets me is that it seems pretty clear that watertight doors were left open. If those doors were shut- as required by law and regulations - then a compartment might have flooded, but there is no way the entire ship could. What seems like the arrogant, rule-breaking, manner of the captain filtered down to the engineering crew as well. (Not the first time I have seen this!)"

Today it was reported in Maritime Executive, "Documents also indicated that the ship's watertight safety doors, which were designed to prevent flooding, had been left open. Costa Cruises maintained that was not true, but officers on board claim that leaving the doors open was standard practice to make it easier for employees to come and go."
By the way it was also reported that the "Black Box" that tracks most relevant things about what was happening on the ship was broken and had been broken for some time.  As Maritime Executive reports: "New leaked e-mails reveal that the vessel had a faulty black box, it broke down in multiple instances and the crewman stated that the situation was getting intolerable."  Yes, the crewman complained. 

Now how is it that the Captain allowed the ship to sail with this critical piece of equipment broken?  Obviously, there needs to be more oversight of captains and officers on the things that matter...not the things that look good or are focused mostly on the bottom line.

If the open watertight doors was so obvious to me, one has to ask, "Why all the focus on mustering and life jackets?"  Is it because it looks good even though it is truly nothing other than a solution of last resort?

Yesterday I wrote a piece about a travel agency that attacked me because I did not report on an elderly woman taken off a Seabourn ship.  It was not, as widely reported, because she failed to attend the muster drill.  It was, in fact, because she intentionally, vigorously and aggressively failed and refused to follow the instructions of the Seabourn captain and officers. 

Personally, I like a ship where the Captain and Officers have extremely limited tolerance for such conduct.  Once the word gets around, you never know, maybe those watertight doors won't be propped open.  (And, yes, I do write about the extraordinary quality of Seabourn's captains!)