Final Maneuvers of Costa Concordia

The maritime bloggers at gCaptain continue to provide the best English-language coverage of the disaster I’ve seen. Although news updates are less frequent now, nearly a week after the accident, the search to recover victims and efforts to secure the wreck continue.

One particularly worthwhile update has been this video, which uses AIS data to trace the final maneuvers of the ship before, during and after her fatal collision with the “Le Scole” rock just south of Porto Giglio. The lideo is long, and not especially polished, but pending release of official findings based on the voyage data recorder — the ship’s “black box” — this may be the best summary of the vessel’s maneuvers at the time of the accident.

Image: Carabinieri scuba divers inspect the Costa Concordia, on January 19, 2012. Italian rescue workers suspended their search of the capsized Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia after the ship moved again on Friday, firefighters’ spokeman Luca Cari said. (Reuters/Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri)


Costa Concordia Blogging

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.”

Update on Elissa Restoration Campaign

Good news for the fundraising effort to make critical repairs to the iron barque’s hull:

The Galveston Historical Foundation is inching closer to its goal of raising $3 million to restore the tall ship Elissa. . . .

“Elissa has been berthed in the same location for over 30 years and regularly maintained without this ever occurring before the months after Hurricane Ike,” [GHF Director Dwayne] Jones said. “Keeping Elissa sailing is very important to the foundation as she is one of three tall ships in the world that still sails. The foundation has sailed her with its very committed volunteer crew every year since she was restored.”

Jones said the Keep Elissa Sailing campaign has been successful, with progress on most of the funds needed for the hull and deck restoration expected to be reached this year.

Some of that help comes from the sale of Elissa beer, an India pale ale brewed by St. Arnold’s Brewery in Houston. Some of the proceeds of the Elissa beer sales are donated to the historical foundation.



How To Help

• Those interested in donating to help restore the tall ship Elissa can make a $10 gift by texting “Elissa” to 50555 on their cellphone.

• Galveston Historical Foundation’s website,, has a complete schedule of fundraising events.

Image: Crew members and invited guests are silhouetted aboard the 1877 barque Elissa as they sail in the ship channel March 22, 2010. The Keep Elissa Sailing campaign aims to raise $3 million to pay for repairs to the tall ship. Published January 02, 2012. Photo by Jennifer Reynolds, Galveston County Daily News.