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"A grounding can really spoil your whole cruise"

UPDATESunday January 15, 2012.

REFERENCE:  UKHO Charts 1999, and 1911

For our non-nautical readers please do not read to much into the detention of the Italian Master of the MS Costa Concordia, Captain Schettino.  This is the procedure of the Italian Code Napoleon System of Justice where one is detained for questioning by a Prosecutor to obtain the facts of the incident from that persons perspective.  In addition to Italian National Law there are International Maritime Laws which also must be applied.  One might point out that the vessel's First Officer was also detained so it would appear he was the OOW (Officer of the Watch) and actually navigating at the time of the grounding. This however is conjecture on the part of  NAUTICAL LOG.  Particularly unhelpful in all this were the remarks of Costa Cruise President Gianni Onorato who, with a background of the hotel department not navigation department, it is reported, stated that there was no designated route for the ship to transit the Strait thus one cannot say the ship was off course.

There are times when Company Presidents should keep their mouths shut, leaving it to the spokesperson and this is a classic of saying stupid things at the wrong time.  Is he trying to tell us that the ship just wandered happily through the Strait with 4200 persons on board and there was no pre-planned course?  Does he not know that the vessels he is managing must have a Passage Plan approved prior to even sailing?  Does he expect to continue selling cruise tickets based on this statement?  No doubt this is the gentleman who selects and approves Masters for the vessels or at least is involved in the interviewing process.  It is at times like this NAUTICAL LOG is pleased to be retired - Mr. Onorato will also most likely be very pleased  that NAUTICAL LOG is retired after he  reads this!!

The vessel operational recorder (Black Box) has been removed as evidence and will be processed to recreate the passage.  This is the evidence which will support any charges which the Master and his Officers may be faced with; the rest is pure speculation and "selling the media" conjecture.  Too often these media reports are written by reporters with little or no knowledge of maritime affairs and only interested in publishing something, anything, "first".  We would remind you of the case of the American student charged with murder whose Italian Prosecutor contrived results and maintained no "chain of evidence", this resulted in her eventual release. 

The Italian Prosecutor Francesco Verusio is now in charge of investigating the MS Costa Concordia grounding.


We have received a Report in our Press Release folder this morning that the MS Costa Concordia, Captain Schettino, has hit a reef in Italy listed severely with massive flooding of the vessel.  Tragically there has been loss of life and NAUTICAL LOG expresses our sympathy to families concerned.

As of yet there is no explanation of how this accident could have occurred however the videos revealed the vessel was extremely close to a bright red lighthouse and there is massive impact damage midships to the vessel.  One suspects that once again there has been over reliance on electronic navigation and not enough on traditional seamanship.  There is no mention of a Port Pilot being on board the vessel so it is entirely the ships navigation team's responsibility.  The ship was 3 to 4 nautical miles off course in coastal waters a huge error at sea in a large passenger vessel.

So it has finally happened a modern cruise line megaship as been lost with some 4200 persons on board.  That is 3200 passengers and 1000 cremembers, it is what many cruise ship Officers and we former Officers have feared.  The photos of huge rocks torn off the reef and buried in the 40 metre hole in the vessel starboard side are frankly quite terrifying.  From the reports there was considerable panic amongst the mostly European passengers with people jumping into the sea and sadly drowning.  This should trigger a review to ALL CRUISE LINES IMMEDIATELY that the passengers should receive their SAFETY LECTURE in the Passenger Terminal while waiting to board NOT hours later when the vessel is underway.  In the case of the MS Costa Concordia the passenger drill was planned for the next day over 24 hours after the passengers had boarded the vessel.  Goodness knows they wait long enough while being processed that the Safety Lecture could be done before boarding.  It would pass that waiting in a useful and constructive way while giving them time to ask questions and have them answered properly, the allotment for Passenger Emergency Drill after sailing does not really allow this to be done.

As a former cruise lines Safety Officer and Staff Officer NAUTICAL LOG knows from firsthand experience that this should be a Passenger Vessel requirement and enforced by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Marine Safety Office (MSO) in all U.S. Ports and Internationally by National Maritime Authorities.

Good Watch.

Off the coast of Puntland, Somalia some 300 of our fellow seafarers are being held hostage by pirates.  They under the unbelievable stress of being murdered at any moment of any hour of any day.  Do YOU really care - if you do contact your Government to take action for there rescue and freedom. Just saying "Oh! isn't that awful" does not do a damn thing for them.


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