Titanic-like cruise ship disaster in Italy


By James Brewer:

Six dead, 29 missing as cruise ship runs aground in Italy

17 January 2012

Six passengers are confirmed dead, 60 injured and 29 still missing after a massive cruise ship ran aground with 4,229 people on board off the coast of Italy Friday evening. After the sixth body was found early Monday, rescue operations were suspended and subsequently resumed, due to heavy seas, as the ship shifted deeper into the water.

The liner, Costa Concordia, the 29th largest in the world, is owned and operated by Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines. Designed to carry 3,700 passengers and 1,100 crew, the ship was close to full capacity when the disaster occurred.

The Italian government, meanwhile, is reportedly preparing to declare a state of emergency over the environmental disaster provoked by the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which is leaking up to half a million gallons of heavy oil into waters that have served as a dolphin sanctuary.

Passengers described the evacuation scene as chaotic and panicked. The Italian media has referred to the disaster as the Italian Titanic.

After departing from the port of Civitavechia some four hours earlier in the afternoon, a muster drill (an exercise usually carried out just after a ship’s departure to familiarize passengers with evacuation procedures, life vests and designated lifeboat locations) had not been conducted, so not only passengers, but also apparently crew members, did not know what to do.

A passenger from Sicily, Alessandra Grasso, told the press, “No crew member was trained for an evacuation.”

Giancarlo Sammatrice, from Vittoria, Sicily, said, “there were not enough lifeboats. The pilots were not sailors but waiters who had no idea how to maneuver and kept on having us turning in circles.”

According to ABC’s report, the black box (cockpit recording device) indicated that the collision took place at 9:45 pm, but passengers weren’t notified to evacuate until 10:50.

A South Korean couple celebrating their honeymoon, were trapped in their cabin for 30 hours before being rescued.

The cruise industry has become a huge business, carrying more than 16 million passengers every year. Cruise ships have become larger and larger, sometimes being described as floating cities. Though the Costa Concordia is a massive vessel, it ranks only as 29th largest. It is 952 feet long, with 17 decks and 1,500 cabins. With such large ships and so many above-the-waterline cabins with sea views and verandas, cruise lines have been able to attract less-than-wealthy passengers.

According to a recent BBC report, “these larger ships have helped cruise liners cut prices, so during the past two decades the industry has experienced annual growth in passenger numbers of some 7.4 percent, as cruises have become a holiday of choice for ordinary people as opposed to being a pursuit only the wealthy could afford.”

It is a lucrative business.

The chairman and CEO of Costa Cruises, Pier Luigi Foschi, was compensated a total of $4,500,000 in 2009, according to Forbes Magazine. Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa’s mother company, reported an average of 13.8 percent growth over the last four quarters with a projected yearly revenue of $15.86 billion. The CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, Micky Arison, made $7,200,000 in 2009, with a personal net worth of $6.1 billion, placing him at 75th on the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans.

The cruise ship company undoubtedly has its own reasons for changing their story in relation to the ship’s captain. Carnival Cruise Line’s stock value fell 17 percent on Monday as a result of the catastrophe.

Even though immediate losses are likely to be covered by insurance, analysts are predicting that Carnival Cruises could suffer a 30 percent decline in profits. The timing of the disaster could not have been worse for the corporation, coming in the midst of its heaviest booking season.

It is to the advantage of the business to deflect any scrutiny from its own practices, such as hiring and training, to a single “irresponsible” individual. The corporation, above all, wants to avoid any implication that the disaster is the outcome of systemic safety problems in its operations and that of the industry as a whole.

In particular, the Concordia disaster calls into question the safety of the larger, more profitable cruise ships, which are more difficult to navigate and cannot pass through channels used by smaller vessels. The large passenger loads also serve to magnify the problem of inadequate training of crew members in safety and emergency response.

The media’s universal vilification of Captain Schettino serves to divert public attention from such concerns. While it appears that errors on the part of the captain contributed to the ship’s grounding, such catastrophes are rarely simply the result of the actions taken by a single individual.

Italy: Whales, sharks threatened by stricken cruise liner, says green group: here.

The Costa Concordia disaster and the profit drive of the cruise business: here.

Costa Concordia Capsizes near Med’s Biggest Marine Park: here.

Death toll likely to rise in Italian cruise ship tragedy: here.

Titanic film review: here.

6 thoughts on “Titanic-like cruise ship disaster in Italy

  1. Pingback: Latest-Business.com

  2. Tue 17 Apr 2012

    Rich splash out on Titanic watch

    A luxury jeweller has come up with a particularly tasteless ornament to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

    Swiss firm Romain Jerome is selling watches made with metal from the Titanic’s hull recovered from the seabed.

    The gruesome watches will go on sale next year priced up to £750,000 each.

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28228

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  3. Despicable: Princess Cruise Luxury Ship Sails Past Dying Fishermen — A Parable For Our Times

    Posted: 04/21/2012 5:13 pm

    Bird-watching luxury cruise passengers with high power binoculars spotted a fishing boat in distress and tried desperately to alert the captain of the Star Princess, owned by Carnival, of Concordia fame.

    But the Princess, with a full complement of 2,500 “newlywed, overfed and nearly dead” well heeled luxury passengers sailed blithefully on, leaving one young man to die that night and another to die five days later.

    Judy Meredith, one of the birdwatchers, tried to contact the Coast Guard via emails that she has provided, but the Coast says it didn’t get the messages.

    “It was a really big, white ship. I was waving a red T-shirt, and Fernando was waving a bright orange life jacket over his head. For a minute it looked like they were going to turn and come for us., but then they just went on their way,” said Adrian in an interview with http://www.panama-guide.com.

    This would have been just another sad story of third world ill-equipped fisherman, but for the fact that 18 year-old Adrian Vasquez managed to live another nine days, when he was rescued.

    He tried to tell people about the big white ship that had passed him by nine days earlier, but nobody believed him.

    Unfortunately for the Star Princess/Carnival, one of the bird watchers, Judy Meredith of Bend, Ore., was determined to find out what happened to the fishing boat in distress. When she saw the news stories about Adrian’s amazing survival after 28 days at sea, she put two and two together.

    Meredith also saw a little noticed local story in Panama-Guide.com and contacted the reporter Don Winner.

    Winner was skeptical at first. He thought the chances of Meredith’s distressed fishing boat and the one that Adrian was on, being one in the same, were astronomical. Meredith sent him pictures of her distressed sighting taken from high powered cameras.

    Winner tracked down Adrian and he confirmed that Meredith’s pictures were of him waving for help that fateful day.

    Oropeces Betancourt, 24, and Fernando Osario, 16, almost certainly died because the captain of the Star Princess, Edward Perrin, failed to stop and save them as legally required by international maritime law.

    The first story the cruise line had told Meredith was that, according to the ship’s log, the Star Princess was moving through a fishing fleet at the time. Contact was supposedly made with the fishing boat, which asked the large ship to change course to avoid damaging their nets. The waving that the bird watchers saw was the fishermen thanking the ship.

    Now, as reported by London papers, Star Princess Captain Edward Perrin is devastated that he is being accused of knowingly turning his back on anyone in distress. “There appeared to be a breakdown in communication,” according to the cruise line.

    Apparently, the captain never got the information. This is somewhat believable, since it is the explicit and well-known policy of Carnival to keep passengers away from the captain. So who else is responsible?

    So, the captain was lying, according to Winner.

    It’s pretty clear at this point the Captain of the Star Princess lied about his contact with the “Fifty Cent” (the fishing boat) that day. He was not, in fact, “in contact” via radio with a fishing fleet — because they didn’t have a radio. There was no need to maneuver to the West to avoid their fishing nets, because they were not fishing. They were waving their shirts and life preservers up and down, trying to be spotted, asking to be rescued. And, the captain blew them off. He made the fatal assumption that they were “just fishing.”

    He turned slightly to avoid them, and he went on his merry way. Now, I want to know his name…

    Thank You, Judy Meredith: This amazing woman did everything she could think of to try to help these poor people. She notified the ship’s captain. She notified the US Coast Guard via email. She followed up with the Princess Cruise Line — who gave her a “corporate” answer, best suited to protect their bottom line. And then she still kept at it, and contacted me. Very, very well done. This might be the first you’ve heard of this story, but I doubt it will be the last.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-fleetwood/post_3279_b_1442933.html

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  4. Costa fined over Concordia wreck

    ITALY: A judge in Tuscany has fined Italian cruise line Costa Crociere €1 million (£850,000) in administrative sanctions for the January 2012 wreck of the Concordia cruise ship that killed 32 people.

    Costa had asked for a plea bargain over the penalty, which companies pay when employees commit crimes.

    It has pinned the blame on Captain Francesco Schettino, who rammed the ship into a reef off the island of Giglio.

    Prosecutors are seeking charges against Mr Schettino and five others.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/131581

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  5. Pingback: World War I, fiction and reality | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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