Thursday, January 26, 2012

Costa Concordia 
Has everyone said all they want to say about the Costa Concordia running aground in Italy? Oh, Yeah, I haven't talked about it in my blog. So if it is not a subject that you are interested in, here an archived blog that might be more fun for you to read.  Laffs Vegas.

I have lost count of how may cruise ships I have been on in the last two decades.  More than I care to recall, but the gig is easy, for the most part, and does pay the mortgage. I have never worked for the Costa line so all my knowledge is based on the policy of other Cruise Companies. But most rules are mandated by the Coast Guard and are the same.

The one thing that I know is that on the lines I work for a Captain will be overly cautious and err to the side of safety over tourism every time. On a recent trip to the Caribbean a wind storm was determined to be too strong for our ship to anchor and tender into Coco Cay. The Captain cancelled the day on the beach because of the danger to the passengers and the ship.  There was much decent from some travelers mad because one of their destinations was not visited. 
Because the Captain made that decision there was no chance to evaluate his conduct in an emergency.  He was over cautious and avoided the emergency.  Had he anchored in bad weather and a tender boat hit the rocks or swamped in the wind harming passengers would they still complain? Even more.

Here is my take on the Costa Concordia event.  The minute the ship hit a rock hard enough to break off and stick in the hull of a ship twice the size of the Titanic, the Captain should have declared an emergency. (Not some hour and a half later like the Costa Captain). There is no doubt that they knew instantly it was not a generator problem as was announced to the passengers.  Generators don't rock the ship and knock things off the shelves. Within minutes an inspection would have discovered the real problem.  On modern ships with video everywhere, they probably had a nice VHS of the actual collision with the rock.  As to the excuse that the rock was not carted on the Costa Captains maps, I say Bull shit. Those waters and that coastline have been sailed for thousands of years.  Today with depth finders and radar even if the rock wasn't charted it would be visible to the sensors. The Captain should have declared a General emergency immediately. 
Every crew member knows what to do in a General emergency.... Seven short and one long blast of the ships horn and ringing emergency alarms.  Even if the passengers did not know where to go they would have been directed to the correct life boat station by crew assigned to that duty way in advance. The crew rehearses this procedure on every ship at least once a week. 
If it was just a generator problem the life boats would not have been lowered and everyone would be instructed to go back to the bar and enjoy the evening.  If it was anything more the life boats would have been filled and lowered into the water.  Since the ship was still up right they could evacuate from both sides. Everyone would be sailing away from the sinking ship to safety. The Captain would have steered the ship onto a beach or shelf so it would not sink completely if he could. (This requires the Captain to be on board... by the way)
Even if the life boats are launched and it is determined that the ship is still safe, the Captain would call the boats back in, they would be hauled up and everyone would go to the bar and have a good time telling the story. 
This captain, now stuck with the nickname, Chicken of the Seas, lied to the passengers, finished his dinner, and waited, until half-an-hour later when the starboard side lifeboats were useless, to abandon ship.  Then fate stepped in. He "Slipped" and fell from the deck into a life boat with his lap top and radio in tack, as the boat was sailing away.  He said it was dark and he couldn't get back on board.  Interesting since there were rescue teams from the Italian Coast Guard that easily boarded the boat to help in the rescue.
Now it is learned that the Captain steered out of the known shipping lane and sailed a course 400 meters closer to the island. Rumor is that there was a party on the island and The Captain wanted to get his ship close enough to be see clearly by the partiers.  
As for me, I want my pilots, my ship Captains and even my bus drivers to err on the side of caution, not grandstand for an audience.  I want them to realize they have stewardship of a lot of lives and take that job seriously.  For the most part they do. It is rare that we hear of such a human disaster like this that was directly caused by the carelessness of the person in charge. 
Smooth sailing.  Clear flying... responsible people in charge.
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

The first thing I did upon hearing about it was to come back here and refresh my memory as to your whereabouts. I was afraid you were on it.
And, of course, you're absolutely right about everything you said here. This guy's career is over. For the safety of future passengers, that's a very good thing.

Bob Conrad said...

Phil said it all.

Aaron and Judy said...

I too was concerned with your wereabouts. (No not a stalker.) I thought you never ventured far from N/S America. Coverage of this tragedy is now complete with your insight and take on the events which unfolded. It is good to have an "insider" explain to us land lovers. Bon Voyage!