Thursday, February 9, 2012

LAWSUITS UNDERWAY

News comes today from Rome in our Press Release folder and local newspaper that a Law Firm would file suits against Miami based Carnival Corporation the parent company of Costa Cruises.  Costa Crociere, SpA., is named as the cruise line whose MS Costa Concordia was put ashore to prevent sinking after hitting a reef on the Italian coast.  17 persons died as a result and 15 are still missing.  The lawyer is John Arthur Eaves, Jr. and he has said his 70 clients from United States, Italy, Germany, Britain, Russia and Switzerland want to sue Carnival.


Mr. Eaves said he would lobby European politicians and international maritime authorities to tighten regulations and increase safety laws.  Also he is pressing for better training of crew members and to develop and implement new safety-oriented technology.


As a former Cruise Line Safety Officer NAUTICAL LOG is in full agreement with Mr. Eaves with one proviso that we seafarers are presently awash in regulations and adding more would be self-defeating.  Let us fully enforce the ones in place which the International Maritime Organization (IMO) clearly did not do by permitting the Costa "sail-bys" in the first place. It is the opinion of NAUTICAL LOG that this is a policy developed by the hotel industry personnel who currently manage cruise operations instead of Seamen Branch Officers who understand both the sea and operation of ships on it.  Having said that one might point out that it was a Seaman Branch Officer who abandoned his Command leaving crew and passengers without Command guidance.  CAPT. Francesco Schettino was clearly not of the character to Command any ship at sea much less a passenger vessel, yet there he was selected by that hotel industry management.  He failed completely it would seem in both his personal behaviour and in the training of his crew.


As we saw from the videos published the crew needed basic training in evacuation.  As a former Safety Officer one was appalled to see and hear that female crewmember telling passengers to return to their cabins. This is a basic taught in the first period of the first class of Evacuation Training NEVER to direct a passenger back to their cabin in an emergency.  The point being they may get confused or trapped there, as tragically happened aboard MS Costa Concordia as some dead were found with their lifejackets on but in the cabin areas.  Passengers must always be directed to the passenger lounges and or the Muster Stations, which in some vessels are the same areas.  From there they can be led to the Lifeboat Stations for evacuation.  The crewmembers MUST know this protocol regardless of whether the Master or Officers are around to guide them.

It will be interesting to see what if any action comes from the IMO however one can count on long-winded excuses as to why action was never taken against Costa or indeed other cruise lines that do "sail-bys", in that the Alaska cruise industry comes to mind.  NAUTICAL LOG spent three seasons in that service and while by the nature of the cruises one sails close to the land there were occasions when the ship was sailed closer than necessary out of the recognized pilotage transit course.


Good Watch.

As some 300 of our fellow seafarers remain hostages of pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia under threat of mutilation or death they can expect no action from the IMO or their National Maritime Authorities to rescue them.  The situation is away beyond disgraceful and one holds those who have the audacity to manage maritime organizations in the greatest contempt.

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