M/S Costa Concordia incidents January 13-14, 2012 caused by ship not being seaworthy - Part 9

Strange news from the court - the sentence 11 February 2015

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Prosecution documents filed on Wednesday February 22, 2012 claim Schettino slowed the ship down, while he was having dinner aboard on the night of the the first incident 13 April, 2012, then sped up to 16 knots to make up time, despite being in shallow water.

There are no shallow waters between Civittavechio and Isola del Giglio. The ship headed straight for Savona after departure ... at constant speed. The course and speed were decided before departure!

The strange course between Civitavecchia, Savona and Giglio island

Schettino had, by orders of the ship owner, decided before 19.18 hrs departing Civitavecchia going to Savona to pass close to the Giglio island around 21.45 hrs. To do so you should evidently set course for the Giglio island straight at departure (picture left - e.g. south of Giannutri island)) and pass east of Giglio ... without turning ... but NO ! The ship went straight for Savona at departure and later, during the trip between the two Italian inland ports some officers aboard, turned 21.11 hrs the ship port straight towards the Giglio island for Schettino to carry out a sharp starboard turn at the last moment to impress the passengers & Co. Of course no passengers aboard were told about neither Giglio nor Giannutri!

The report says the nautical charts were not appropriate and not detailed enough to reveal obstacles including the rock on which the fatal impact occurred. It evidently means the ship was not correctly outfitted for the voyage and not seaworthy!

But regardless, the planned turn in front of Isola de Giglio was far away from shore in deep water. All concerned officers aboard knew exactly before departure that the ship was going to turn outside Isola del Giglio. For unknown reasons the turn was not executed according to the plan.

The report points to the large number of people in the bridge area at the time of the incident, including Domnica Cermotan, a friend of Schettino's, which "generated confusion and distraction for the captain."

So the first incident was due to confusion on the bridge. Why not?

There is no evidence at all for the inventions of the prosecution.

It says Schettino failed to perform appropriate maneuvres to avoid the collision (sic), did not activate procedures to seal (sic) the ship, and did not take charge of the crew during the operation. He also took too much time to sound the general alarm and order the evacuation. You really wonder how the ship owner could have appointed this person as Master.

It seems the Italian prosecution does not know anything how safety at sea is arranged on a ship. This is confirmed in the judgement made public 10 July 2015. The judgement was made five months earlier!

But, if procedures to seal the ship means closing watertight doors, the court is recommended to establish, if the watertight doors were permitted aboard by SOLAS in the first place (only between engine rooms for the safe operation of the ship) and if they were open at the incident (as they should have been closed at sea unless special permission by Italian administration had been given) and if they were actually closed after the incident. Scrutiny of the log book and other records (ISM safety meetings/audits) will establish how the watertight doors were operated in the past and why any incorrect procedures had not been detected at safety surveys and Port State controls.

And what does the court think about something even more sinister?

Costa Cruises was Jan 24, 2013 told of a probe into possible violations of Italian law governing the responsibility of companies for crimes committed by employees. The company was confident that it will be able to demonstrate full compliance with the law. It had 20 days to present evidence in its defense. Mid February no evidence was presented as far as this writer knows. And the trial of the ship master was not announced. Maybe the Italian prosecutor will go after the ship owner and not the ship master? There are other court cases in the USA, e.g.;

"We obviously intend to prove that the captain was negligent … we are also intending to prove that the cruise company was grossly negligent in that it did not train the crew members properly. No one died in the actual collision - people died in the aftermath."

Holly Ostrov Ronai

The trial was supposed to take place 15-24 April, 2013, at Grosetto. In the end it started 16 July with only Schettino (the Master) in the box and was supposed to end earliest April 2014 that I describe here. The others were July 20, 2013 sentenced to prison without process. I describe more of it in other parts of this analysis. 2015 the court still tried to organize itself to find out what happened. The ship owner? Was not present in court. Had paid a fine to stay away. Typical Italian justice. Just blame the tram driver when the whole tram is defective.

In the end 11 February 2015 Schettino was sentenced by the court at Grosetto to 16 years one month in jail for his 'crimes' (sic) and to pay, jointly with the ship owner, 30.000:- to each of 110 civilian parties, 5.000:- to each of another 50 civilian parties, 300.000:- to two civilian parties, 500.000:- to four other civilian parties, 1.500.000:- to further two civilian parties and other sums to 100's of other civilian parties of all kind. As Schettino probably has not personal liability insurance he must pay a fortune to 100's of civilian parties he has hurt one way or other out of his own pocket. Schettino has later appealed but lost in all instances and is now in (May 2017) in jail.

Imagine that - a little accident happens at sea 13 January 2012 - a contact - and the ship is safe, so that it can be evacuated and towed for repairs. It has even happened to me! However it capsizes suddenly hours later 14 January 2012 and sinks with the loss of 32 lives. It is a surprise to everyone. Another big and serious incident happened!

The proximate cause of the contact was crew error during navigation (or something else). If the ship was properly insured, the cost of hull damages would be paid for by hull underwriters and any claims by passengers for an interrupted cruise would be paid by the ship owner.

The proximate causes of the sinking and loss of 32 lives were that the ship (and mony others) was not seaworthy and incorrectly certified with (1) illegal watertight doors allowing progressive flooding causing the loss of stability and sinking and (2) with mechanically, not working LSA and lack of crew to handle the LSA causing the loss of 32 lives. As the ship was not seaworthy with full knowledge of the ship owner, insurances were not valid and any civil liabilities are for ship owner's account. To make an employé seaman economically responsible for these third party damages is bad law.

By covering up the fact that the ship was not seaworthy and unsafe at any time and by sentencing the Master to jail, the incompetent court contributes to safety at sea not being improved in the future.

Go to Part 10.

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