The Loss Of A Fine Cruise Ship
The loss of a mighty ship is always shocking and a matter of great regret, but when there is a heavy loss of life, it is also an occasion of great sadness, sympathy and concern for the families and friends of those so tragically lost. Our thoughts should also be with all the passengers and crew who, despite surviving, have gone through a hellish experience and our admiration is for the actions of the Italian authorities and all concerned in the rescue operation and subsequent search for survivors.
Of course, the loss of a large, modern, well found and equipped vessel in good weather on a passage familiar to the ‘bridge team’ raises many questions. These are best answered and acted upon when an inquiry by the Italian authorities has established the facts and reported its findings and recommendations. In the meantime, I am sure, many companies will already be reviewing their own bridge procedures, voyage planning, systems and training to confirm the robustness of their safety and emergency arrangements. Such a calamity does of course lead to speculation and gossip (some of it informed, some not) as to the causes of such a disaster, and of course who is to blame. This is only natural, but particularly unedifying to me, was the willingness of the shipping company to quickly point the finger of blame at the Master of the Costa Concordia, Captain Francesco Schettino.
The development and ongoing application of a strong safety culture in any fleet is not the responsibility of Masters alone. It must be driven from the Board level down. The release of a holding statement by the company pending the outcome of the official inquiry would have been a more honourable stance in my opinion. Any statement post the inquiry would then be based on established facts.
HAMISH ROSS, EDITOR