Don’t overlook the causative factors in the Costa Concordia
January 26, 2012
investigation has just begun and so, too, has the speculation on what went
wrong in the Costa Concordia cruise
ship disaster. With so much video, data and media coverage available, it is
hard not to.
Of course, the
captain is taking the brunt of it and is being called a “cowboy,” “negligent,” “incompetent,”
and various other names (perhaps deservedly so.) It doesn’t matter to me if the
captain is indeed a kook or just a mariner who took a huge unnecessary risk that
resulted in a catastrophe. I hope that the focus of the investigation will remain
on the causative factors and not be derailed by the emotional response from the
media and others.
media has been focusing on the captain’s abandoning of the ship and that there
was alleged chaos during the evacuation. Honestly, they got almost 4,000 people
off of that ship, with or without the captain being on deck. While all of those
issues will have to be looked at, we should not forget that if the ship didn’t
hit the rocks in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a need to abandon
read a press release from Europa.com, the official website of the European
Union. It said: “Vice-President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for
Transport has asked that the currently ongoing review of EU passenger ship
safety legislation take fully into account any lessons to be learnt from the Costa Concordia tragedy.”
The EU release
goes on to explain in detail the priority of the issues which will be looked
into which include stability, design of ships and technical evolution, evacuation,
scope of EU legislation, and qualifications and training of crew. While these
are all important issues, none of them address what appears to be a causative
factor of the accident — the navigational errors that caused the ship hit the
lexicon the official term for navigating a vessel in or out of harbors, or near
the coast is known as “piloting.” What were the piloting practices of the Costa Concordia? Do they plot courses,
danger ranges, or use the ship’s tactical data to calculate advance and
transfer? Or has the advent of technology rendered us so complacent that ship captains
now simply “drive” cruise ships like they are tugs?
We’ll have to
wait for the official investigation report. In the mean time, all maritime companies
should take this opportunity to review their own navigation standards. I recently
blew the dust off of my old textbooks to see what they had to say on the topic.
Interestingly enough, it’s all still relevant despite GPS. Bowditch and Dutton*
warned us of this a long time ago.
For more information, visit Maritime Compliance International.
("The American Practical Navigator: Bowditch" and "Dutton's Nautical Navigation")