M/S Costa Concordia incidents January 13-14, 2012 caused by ship not being seaworthy - Part 12

Some conclusions and thoughts about my Costa Concordia incident analysis

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i. Don't believe what media report about incidents at sea!

According Wikipedia:

"Coverage of the shipwreck dominated international media in the days after the disaster. The New York Times called the incident "a drama that seemed to blend tragedy with elements of farce". Phillip Knightley called it the "most significant event in modern maritime history" because "every single safety procedure designed to make sea travel safe failed miserably". ... Newspaper Corriere della Sera stated that Italy owed the world a "convincing explanation" for the wreck and called for harsh punishment of those found responsible. Il Giornale said the wreck was a "global disaster for Italy". Il Messaggero said there was "anguish over those still missing". La Repubblica called the event "a night of errors and lies". La Stampa criticised the captain for not raising the alarm and refusing to go back on board the ship." Etc, etc.

Evidently the above is typical Wikipedia trying to describe how media work and it is better not to report anything, e.g. about ship owners' responsibilities.

Don't believe anything media report of incidents at sea. The reporters and journalists don't know much about ships or passenger ships and safety at sea and terms used. Media never ask the first question you should ask, when an accident or incident at sea occurs:

Was the ship seaworthy?

Answer: No!

Media never ask the second question you should ask, when an accident at sea occurs:

Were there sufficient trained crewmembers aboard to save passengers and ship?

Answer: No!

Or the third question:

Was the ship owner aware of the responsibilites?

Answer: No!

Media just report what certain part interests like and that sells, e.g. all is the fault of the Master. Media do not dare to report the ship owner's - Costa's - own statement:

"The (ship owning) company is not responsible for what happens on board the ship"

- just blame the Master!! - as then the passengers will get scared.

Media reporting is generally stupid show by uneducated journalists.

The Heiwa Co website is therefore never linked to or consulted by media!

The news July 21, 2012 - that the analysis of the Costa Concordia Voyage Data Recorder information was delayed nine months until October 15 2012 - was hardly reported at all. Or why it was difficult to analyze the data. The final data showed that most info published by media until then about the incident could not be confirmed. Media reported a collision - there was no collision. Media reported a grounding - there was no grounding. Media didn't report a capsize, when the passenger ship actually capsized. Media reported a successful up righting September 2013 of the wreck but didn't report that the wreck hull was seriously damaged in the process and must be repaired ... under water ... to proceed. Etc, etc.

 

ii. 99% of all aboard were safely evacuated! But 32 drowned. Why is that? Who is responsible?

The ship's Master is innocent of any manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship etc, according to any laws. He was just doing his job according to given ISM instructions of the ship owner and approved by the authorities, when accidents struck at least twice during and after his stupid Magic turn the ship show on the bridge.

He was apparently on the bridge, when the ship was executing a planned turn - the inchino - and started to leak due to one stupid/strange/accidental contact incident at 21.45 hrs 13 January 2012 partly up flooding four watertight compartments (double bottom was intact) and nobody died then. The planned route including a turn/change of heading, in the pitch dark night, close to shore was as per company policy and agreed prior departure and then and planned by the 2nd Officer in charge of navigation, when something went wrong (incorrect charts, language problems, incompetent crew provided by the ship owner, steering gear not working, sabotage, etc, etc?). The Master alone cannot really be blamed for all that. He was just performing his Magic show to entertain the passengers and his Moldovan girlfriend!

The Master's prime responsibilities aboard were otherwise (1) to keep the passengers incl. girlfriend and the ship owner happy and (2) ensure that ISM procedures were followed and not to personally steer the ship. He and his mostly Asian origin, underpaid (compared to EU citizens), non-Italian speaking crew supplied by the ship owner then managed to anchor the damaged but floating and stable vessel along the shore and supervise, hm, the evacuation of 99% of persons aboard to shore. The ship evidently was never aground as reported because a ship that is aground cannot capsize! If ISM procedures were followed but still causing 32 people to drown, it must be explained.

It seems crew supplied by the ship owner didn't know how to launch the life rafts and that passengers were not informed that life rafts could be used when abandoning ship.

Furthermore it seems many lifeboats both port and starboard were not used at all, again, due to lack of crew aboard to lower the boats to the embarkation deck, embark passengers and then launch the boat into the water. Several hundreds of passengers were abandoned on the starboard side and had to rush to the port side to find a lifeboat or life raft to use and ... found boats and rafts ... but no crew to launch them. These facts have been ignored by Italian marine incident and judicial investigators for 21 months ... and you should wonder why. Easiest is to re-establish by independent investigators what really happened before, during and after the abandon ship operation and why 32 persons were left behind. The present investigators have not done a proper and complete job in this respect. They actually defend an incompetent ship owner and the Italian maritime authority by issuing an incomplete report full of incorrect information.

The responsible parties are the ship owner, the top management of the ship owning company and the maritime authority that have sent a not seaworthy, dangerous and unsafe cruise ship to sea. To improve safety at sea, these parties must improve their performances. 

 

iii. Ship capsize and sinking must be explained to establish the proximate cause of killing people!

The ship was stable and floating after the January 13, 21.45 hrs contact, i.e. safe, even if 1 000's of tons of water had leaked into the hull of the ship and partly up-flooded four compartments. The authorities suggest that damage was 60-70 meters long and that five compartments were immediately up-flooded but it is wrong. If it had happened, the ship would have capsized 180° at once and all aboard would have drowned.

The hull opening is 36.5 meters long and only three or four compartments were partly affected (the double bottoms mainly intact) and the damage condition was stable and floating. Why the Italian investigators lie in this respect must be clarified.

Why the floating, not aground ship heeled slowly to starboard prior capsize must also be explained. It was probably due to progressive flooding through illegal watertight doors apparently opened after the first incident during the evacuation reducing stability and wind force, when starboard bilge touched some rocks.

The chaotic, incomplete evacuation leaving 300+ persons on the ship, when it capsized, was due to some lifeboats and most life rafts not being used. The cause for this fatal fact is that crew to handle life rafts and lifeboats were not aboard. The responsibility of the ship not being seaworthy rests with the ship owner.

After the chaotic (it had never been tested) evacuation of 99% of persons aboard to shore, the ship capsized very close to shore (a second incident!) at 00.32 hrs the next day January 14 and started sinking due to down-flooding of intact, watertight compartments and sliding away on the sea floor into deeper water and first then people still aboard drowned or were killed. The starboard side from bilge to top of eck house was apparently severly damaged due to the capsize and sliding away from shore.

Why this happened and who is responsible (for manslaughter!) need to be further investigated. What caused the righting arm GZ to become 0 and the ship to capsize, to get further damaged on the starboard side and sink (almost three hours after the first incident) killing people? Did somebody open watertight doors aboard or change anything to cause capsize/sinking?

Where the 25 watertight doors operated according SOLAS rules, ISM procedures and administration's and company's instructions? Were the doors legal? Evidently not. Watertight doors are not permitted by SOLAS. The ship was substandard.

Is the proximate cause of the second incident, i.e. the capsize (and killing of people) an open or leaking watertight door and progressive flooding of intact hull compartments as suggested by the Italian Marine Casualty Investigation Central Board in a preliminary report but not mentioned in the final report. Did the crew/staff open watertight doors duriing the evacuation? Is the person responsible for the opening and/or leaking watertight door responsible for the killing of people on the Costa Concordia. Who can it be? The ship owner? The administration?

Were the bilge alarms in every watertight compartment working or fitted at all, so the Master knew how the ship was flooded? Were the bilge pumps started to keep vessel afloat? Who was responsible to assure the safety of the ship? Evidently the ship owner and management ashore and his crew onboard. Anyway, the ship never sank completely as it was and still is resting on the bottom with 30% above water (or less after up righting). 

 

iv. Insurances were not valid!

The Underwriters (the insurance companies) may consider the loss or damage has resulted from multiple absences of due diligence by the ship owner, i.e. the insurance is not valid!

The ship owner doesn't know how many were aboard and are missing!

It is not diligent by a ship owner to allow a ship to navigate with open watertight doors at sea and to ignore SOLAS requirements to maintain watertight subdivision at all times! This fault actually refers to the whole Costa fleet and nothing is done about it! The watertight doors were illegal!

It is not dilgent to provide a full crew that is not familiar with the mustering, embarkation, lowering of lifeboats and life rafts and abandon ship procedures.

It is not diligent never to practice mustering full complement, embarkation, lowering of all lifeboats and all life rafts and abandon ship procedures. How this defect was not noted at regular ISM audits and Port State Control inspections is a mystery. Were the auditors and inspectors competent?

It is not diligent by a ship owner to encourage his shipmasters to show off the ships close to shore after sunset and in pitch dark conditions while not providing proper outlook and charts and later deny it and blame all on one unfortunate shipmaster!


It is not normal or expected that valuable ships with plenty passengers are turning very close to the shores in show offs at night ... with open watertight doors! If it happens it is evidently at the ship owner's own risk. The underwriters would have stopped the madness at once, if informed. The ship owner may therefore have shot himself in the leg.

Refusal by underwriters to pay the stupid, total loss 400 million and removal expenses 900++ million may be a good initiative to encourage ship owners to behave more serious in order to maintain and improve safety at sea and to prevent incompetent ship owners to operate ships at all.

The total claim may be of the order $1.6 bn and it looks like underwriters actually pay (17 June 2014)!  

 

v. Visible structural side damages do not look real!

There are also the very strange things about the contact incident to consider. The visible structural damages on port, vertical side one meter below waterline and above the inner bottom do not look real: a ship hardly shears off and scoops up a 100 tons boulder from an outcrop of the sea floor and lodges it on top of its inner bottom. And why is it suggested that the damage is 60-70 meters long and five watertight compartments were immediately up-flooded at contact, when the open fracture on port side is only 36.5 meters long causing up-flooding of four compartments? And why are there no underwater pictures of the starboard side of the hull before and after up righting?

Of course no real seaman ever speeds by close to any shore with a big ship, so any associated damages have never been imagined. The alleged manuever before anchoring - a 180° turn 1.000 meters north of final position and moving against current - do not look real either. The miraculous evacuation and sending home of 4.200 persons within 24 hrs after shower/breakfast on a small island are also unbelievable. Where did 4 000+ persons stay on the island? In 3 000 beds? Finally, the various statements of the ship owner, Master, senior officers and crew are very strange. And why was the whole crew quickly repatriated without being questioned about the incident? Is this a real insurance case or something else? 4 February 2012 I had my doubts about the whole thing. You have to have an open mind, when investigation incidents at sea. Fraud is always an temptation being masked as a stupid accident. 

 

vi. Incorrectly fitted and wrongly operated watertight doors caused the loss and killed people and made the ship unseaworthy!

Modern cruise vessels like this one or this one (and also Costa Concordia and her sister ships) are incorrectly fitted with doors in the watertight hull bulkheads in crew and store spaces and are then wrongly certified by ignorant maritime authorities and will sink like stones in collisions or contact incidents killing people due to progressive flooding through open watertight doors in incidents, when watertight compartments are up-flooded. The ships are substandard and not seaworthy. Many maritime authorities and cruise ship operators like USCG vice admiral Brian M. Salerno, deputy USCG commandant for operations, and captain George Wright, senior Vice President, Marine Operations, Princess Cruises, do not understand that doors in watertight bulkheads are not permitted, and, when permitted, e.g. only one door in a bulkhead between engine rooms (necessary for safe operations of the ship) are subject to draconian safety requirements. A watertight door in a crew or store space is not necessary for the safe operation of the ship and cannot be fitted under any circumstances. It is as simple as that ... since early SOLAS days. The solution - to walk up/down to the main deck at the bulkhead - is very easy and safe and the only alternative. In the Costa Concordia case - with the engine control room located above bulkhead deck - there seems to be no need for any watertight doors at all between engine rooms.

The Costa company instructions about watertight doors on all their ship can be read here (in Italian). The crazy document shows clearly that all Costa ships are not seaworthy, fitted with illegal watertight doors and operated with watertight doors open at sea, to be recorded in the log book, which is not done, etc, etc. Reason for this dangerous situation is incompetent ship owner and maritime authority not knowing better. It is quite sad.

Unfortunately the reaction from stupid and incompetent administrations and ship owners (and underwriters!) is that the underpaid crew need the doors to walk around in the hull, that it is safe to sail with open doors because they will be closed, if something happens, etc, etc, blah, blah. It is stupid! It is criminal. And nothing is done about it. It would appear that the crew/staff opened watertight doors during the evacuation and that the doors could not be closed again. The open doors caused progressive flooding, loss of stability, capsize and sinking! And nothing is done about it!

 

vii. Risk of big luxury cruiser collision greatest ever!

'Experts' suggest that probability (risk) is low for this type of strange incident but fact remains that contacts and collisions at sea are real risks and next time maybe a bigger cruise vessel (with 5 000+ passengers aboard) may be rammed by a fast, big containership (with a crew of 20!) away from any shore. It is very simple to test the evacuation of a ship with 5 000+ persons aboard. Do it at anchor in port and invite media to look on!

There have never been so many big, slow cruise vessels (offering cheap cruises) with illegal W/T doors and fast, very big containerships at sea in history, i.e. the risk has never been so big.


Maybe the number of persons to be carried on any ship should be maximized?

The risk that a cruise ship will collide with the safest oil tanker in the world is zero because USA as only member of the IMO has forbidden it to enter US ports ... so it is not built! The Safety at Sea business is tough. 

 

viii. Analyzing ship incidents is interesting and fun and improves safety at sea!

Analyzing ship incidents is interesting and fun because you and ship owners can learn from them, improve the ships, crew, procedures and their safety and save lives in the future. Heiwa Co has done it with good humor and common sense since at least 1994. Strangely this is not appreciated by authorities, underwriters, incl. P&I and (stupid) people in charge, e.g. in Sweden. That's why more sea accidents will take place and more people will be killed on ships ... and ashore ... asking the wrong questions. Prove me wrong and earn 1 000 000:-!

I was looking forward to a correct Costa Concordia incident safety investigation report as per EU Directive 2009/18/EC ... but got another M/V Estonia type report 1997 or an M/V Estonia sinking time schedule research project report 2008, where experts like D. Vassalos, P. Valanto, C. Strasser and others scientifically falsify the capsize and sinking of a passenger ship with 22 watertight doors in 11 watertight bulkheads to satisfy particular interests not associated with safety at sea. Evidently a passenger ship with 22 watertight doors (and incorrect LSA) is not seaworthy but it was in spite of these criminal defects certified by many national administrations and classification societies. You wonder how 25 watertight doors of the M/S Costa Concordia were permitted? And why they were fitted against SOLAS requirements? The Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports (sic) has 16 months later, May 2013, not explained it at www.safety4sea.com/images/media/pdf/Costa_Concordia_-_Full_Investigation_Report.pdf. 

 

ix. The water filled wreck removal ... or attempt of ... salvage, re-floating, towing away, re-cycling and ... re-sinking

The capsize, crushing onto the sea floor and sliding down away from shore on hard rocks and sinking on 14 January 2012 damaged the ship's starboard side and bilge but apparently no underwater inspection was done to establish the condition in view of removal. That the wreck was a constructive total loss beyond repairs should have been obvious earlY. No underwater pictures of the damaged hull are available to the public. And a very strange and expensive removal method was chosen. It was announced that all work, re-floating and towing away, should be completed by May 2013 but then the wreck was still in the same position as a year before.

The parbuckling of the wreck September 2013 apparently resulted in starboard bilge and/or the false see floor and coral reef being further crushed. But again no further underwater inspection was done to establish the condition in view of re-floating and towing away. No underwater pictures of the damaged hull of the wreck are available to the public.

If attaching of extra buoyancy tanks, sponsons, 12-30 meters underwater on the starboard side is possible is an open question ... and how long it will take. It would probably have been cheaper and faster using pontoons.

The damaged hull, superstructure and deckhouse finally arrived at Genoa July 2014. And it is still there May 2016 for re-cycling. But the hull is still full of water and nobody seems to know how to get rid of it. Maybe re-sinking is the final solution?

And why wasn't a safer, quicker and simpler salvage methods used? No sponsons attached to the hull are really required. After up righting on the underwater platforms and securing the bow using the blister, two 30 000 dwt pontoons could have easily lifted the wreck off the rocks.  

 

x. Why did 32 persons get killed on 14 January, 2012?

Why didn't all persons aboard get evacuated before capsize? Why did 12 German, 6 French, 5 Italian and 2 US American passengers and 1 Spanish passenger during two, three hours not understand that they had to go to the muster stations to be escorted by trained crew to the lifeboats and liferafts? The passengers spent all their time high up in the deck house of the ship and it was ample time between first contact at 21.45 hrs and capsize 00.34 hrs early next morning to get off the ship or go higher up. Alarms were activated. Six other crew members apparently also drowned but maybe they were doing their jobs and were surprised by the capsize down below.

Why were ISM procedures for evacuation and abandoning ship not followed? Had they actually been tested and trained? Apparently not. The crew didn't know how to launch all lifeboats and most life rafts! There were not sufficient trained crew aboard to launch the life rafts.

Only a complete and correct incident, criminal or safety, investigation will clarify why these people drowned or were killed on 14 January, 2012. Heiwa Co recommends any prosecutor not to blame any officer, crew member or office staff ashore for killing people before that proper investigation is done. So far the investigations are poor and incomplete just trying to blame the Master for everything without any evidence forgetting the Company and authorities ultimately responsible for safety at sea.
 

 

xi. 20 months criminal trial ... for what?

You wonder why it is necessary with a show trial of the lone Master Schettino starting 16 July 2013 ending in spring 2015 in a theater at Grosseto after 65 sessions planned in court to establish what really happened 13-14 January 2012 at Isola del Giglio. Isn't it obvious that the 13 January 2012 contact was an accident caused by faulty charts and bridge procedures and incompetent crew provided by the ship owner and language problems making the ship unseaworthy and maybe a defective steering gear? Who was responsible? The Master? The ship owner? Or nobody? Luckily nobody died on 13 January, 2012, and the ship was floating and stable.

The manslaughter occurred on 14 January when the ship sank after having capsized apparently due to open watertight doors as explained many times above. Progressive flooding took place and stability (GZ) was lost, vessel heeled 90°, starboard side was locally crushed and intact compartments were down flooded and the ship sank on the rocky shore. Some people had not been evacuated and drowned as life rafts and lifeboats were not used.

The ship was evidently substandard and incorrectly designed, certified and operated with 25 watertight doors and incompetent and incomplete crew and thus not seaworthy. Who is responsible? The Master?

No, in this case responsibility is that of ship owner and maritime administration. The ship was not seaworthy at any time due to lack of competent crew to, e.g. launch life rafts and incorrect design with 25 watertight doors.

 

xii. Voyage/Voice Data Recordings, VDR - are they real?

It is suggested that what happened on the ship was recorded one way or other. But as everything is so confusing it is clear that all VDR data was destroyed early and what was reported later was just made up to suit.

 

Only way to improve safety at sea is to ensure that the ship is seaworthy at departure. It is quite easy, actually, but often forgotten.

 

xiii. Italian books about the incident

 

 

Anders Björkman, Heiwa Co, 24 November, 2013 (and up-dated later)

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