The cruise industry is stipulating new safety requirements for cruise ships, which include restricted visits to the bridge and more on-board life jackets. The new safety policy has been agreed on by the industry following the disaster with the Costa Concordia in January. After the Concordia capsised off the island of Giglio’s coast in January, 28 bodies have been found and there are two still missing. A salvage team has been appointed to move the wreck from the rocks it’s snagged on, which is expected to take a year.
The measures also require that all members of the bridge team agree with the course of the ship before it sets sail. This was a recommendation under rulings from the current International Maritime Organisation (IMO). It follows claims that Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino strayed from the vessel’s approved route in order to salute the island of Giglio’s residents in a public relations stunt.
The three new safety measures are to be immediately implemented and are part of a major operational safety review conducted by the European Cruise Council (ECC) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The organisations made it mandatory in February for cruise lines to hold safety drills for passengers prior to the ship setting sail. A panel of four maritime experts from the UK, US and Holland have been appointed to advise the ECC and CLIA as their review of all aspects of operational activity for safety continues. The panel will evaluate suggested policy improvements as part of the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review.
The panel includes: Stephen Meyer, a retired Admiral Royal Navy, former Royal Navy commander and former UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch head; Mark Rosenker, a former US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman, retired Major General, US Air Force Reserve and former White House Military Office director; Jack Spencer, a former US NTSB chief of office of marine safety and former Coast Guard official; and Willem de Ruiter, the former European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) head.
CLIA president and chief executive Christine Duffy says their top priority is the safety of crew and passengers. The launch of this review was consistent with the industry’s longstanding tradition of taking aggressive steps to strengthen safety procedures and practices. The unbiased advice and opinions of these four experts will help achieve their goal of continued innovation and improvement in the operations and safety of cruise ships, she added.
ECC spokesman Mark Watts says the new requirement demands ships keep extra life jackets on board in ‘heavily-trafficked’ areas. Cruise lines will have to decide where those areas are, based on the individual designs of the ships. The bridge will be out of bounds to all passengers while the ship is at sail or at times of increased vigilance. However, bridge visits will be allowed at other times. This follows reports that Schettino had invited a Moldovan woman to the bridge shortly before the Concordia struck rocks and ran aground, he added.
The policies also follow Costa Cruises chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi (65) announcing his retirement from the position on July 1. However, he is due to stay on as chairman and keep his seat on the board of Carnival Corporation. He will also keep overseeing matters involving the Concordia tragedy.
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