Lessons Learned from the COSTA CONCORDIA Accident

By MarEx 2012-02-29 09:02:26

A Congressional hearing on Wednesday will review the safety of cruise vessels operating out of U.S. ports and lessons learned in light of the recent COSTA CONCORDIA accident off the coast of Italy.  A fire occurred onboard another cruise ship operated by the same company; this vessel is currently adrift in the Indian Ocean.  Witnesses on Wednesday will include survivors of the COSTA CONCORDIA accident.

The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee hearing, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), will review the COSTA CONCORDIA incident in order to help ensure a similar tragedy will not occur in U.S. waters or aboard any of the over 170 cruise vessels which call on American ports each year.  The hearing will review current U.S. cruise ship safety regulations, as well as the performance of international safety standards on which both the U.S. and Italian safety regulations are based.  The hearing will also examine whether these standards were followed in the COSTA CONCORDIA accident.

In the United States, the cruise industry impacts millions of Americans annually.  In 2010, more than 10 million U.S. residents embarked on a cruise, generating more than $37 billion for the U.S. economy and sustaining nearly 330,000 American jobs.  Cruising is one of the safest ways to travel, and Wednesday’s hearing will at ways to make cruising even safer and to assure that existing rules and regulations are followed. 

The COSTA CONCORDIA Accident:  On January 13, 2012, the COSTA CONCORDIA, with 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members aboard, struck a reef off the Italian coast.  The vessel flooded, causing it to list and come to rest on its side in 45 feet of water.  There are currently 25 known fatalities, and 7 people remain missing, including two Americans from Minnesota. 

Although official investigations are ongoing, extensive media reports indicate that the vessel’s captain overrode a pre-programmed navigation track line.  Reports also indicate the call to abandon ship was neither immediate nor clear, and the evacuation was chaotic.  It has been reported that the captain abandoned the ship well before most of the passengers evacuated and refused to return when ordered to do so by the Italian Coast Guard. 

The COSTA ALLEGRA Incident: On February 27, 2012, the COSTA ALLEGRA – another cruise vessel named operated by the COSTA CONCORDIA’s operator, Costa Conciere – suffered a generator fire in the Indian Ocean.  The fire was safely extinguished and no injuries were reported.  The vessel is currently adrift and is awaiting a tug.

For more information about Wednesday’s hearing, click here.

WHAT: Hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Chairman:
“A Review of Cruise Ship Safety and Lessons Learned from the Costa Concordia Accident”

WHEN: 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WHERE: 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515. A live webcast of this hearing will be available at http://transportation.house.gov

Panel I:
• Vice Admiral Brian M. Salerno, Deputy Commandant for Operations, United States Coast Guard

Panel II:
• Mr. and Mrs. Sameer and Divya Sharma, COSTA CONCORDIA Survivors

Panel III:
• Ms. Christine Duffy, President and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association
Accompanied by: Michael Crye, Executive Vice President Technical and Regulatory, Cruise Lines International Association
• Mr. George Wright, Senior Vice President Marine Operations, Princess Cruises
Accompanied by: Ms. Vicky Rey, Vice President Guest Service and Support, Carnival Cruise Lines
• Captain Evans Hoyt, Master of Norwegian Spirit and Pride Of America, Norwegian Cruise Lines
• Mr. Brian W. Schoeneman, Legislative Director, Seafarers International Union