The tragedy in Italy has little direct connection to Texas, but it’s of interest to me due to the cruise ships operating out of Galveston, under three lines — Carnival (parent to Costa), Royal Caribbean and Disney. Rick Spilman at Old Salt Blog and gCaptain have been all over this story, and the latter particularly has some strong commentary. Here’s Rob Almeida, in an Op/Ed at gCaptain:
This wasn’t simply an accident. This was negligence.
The Costa Concordia didn’t hit rocks. At 9:30 PM on Friday night, the ship hit the bloody ISLAND as they were literally showboating around in the darkness. It just so happens the ship’s bilge picked up a big chunk of the island in the process.
On a state-of-the-art, and fully automated cruise ship like this one, you can’t get right up close to an island without shutting off a half dozen alarm systems that tell you that you are entering shallow water. These alarms would not be disregarded by the ship’s officers, the decision to bypass these safety alarms while in close proximity to land would certainly have been made by the Captain.
Reports indicate that after plodding along for a full hour, with the sea gushing into open holes in the ship’s hull, the captain finally acknowledged that he, and his ship, were totally screwed. He then turned the ship around, sent his first MAYDAY call, and ran it aground. Unfortunately however, because of the delay of the MAYDAY call, by the time rescuers arrived, the ship was heeling so drastically that only one side of the ship could be used to offload guests effectively.
It’s a tragic situation, and equally as unbelievable to think that a ship’s captain would have put his own ship in such a precarious position. It truly calls into question whether or not he had the requisite shiphandling experience to understand the actual risks involved in taking a ship that close to shore.
In a public statement he made over the weekend, he mentions that he was at least 150 meters from shoal water, and about 300 meters from land. Putting those numbers into context, he had knowingly put his ship within half a ship-length of shoal water, in the dark, and without a pilot on board. Anyone who’s ever driven a ship understands how foolish that is.
Observes one commenter at gCaptain, “I’m glad they got the captain safely in a jail cell before the second mate could beat him to death with a copy of Bowditch.”