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Post Costa Concordia

The flooding of five continues watertight compartments containing most of the ships vital equipment makes the Costa Concordia casualty an exceptional incident. While the initial technical assessment has been completed there are still on-going investigations and a criminal case and it may be sometime before the full facts are released into the public domain.

Since Costa Concordia was construction new SOLAS regulations have come into force for new build passenger ships placing a greater emphasis on the “safe return to port” philosophy This has resulted in the introduction of a number of features including;

  • Improved segregation and redundancy of vital equipment for propulsion, steering and navigation
  • Compulsory onboard stability computer
  • Installation of flooding detection systems
  • Use of electronic chart display systems (ECDIS) as the primary means of navigation

Other areas that may be revisited in the light of the Costa Concordia accident include.

  • Double skin protection for WTC’s containing vital propulsion and electricity production
  • Better distribution of bilge pumps
  • Placing main voltage propulsion transformers in a higher location
  • Relocating the main switchboard room above the bulkhead and the redundancy of electrical distribution systems
  • Creating an interface between the flooding detection and monitoring system and the on board stability computer
  • Availability of essential systems in case of emergencies and the provision of adequate emergency generator capacity to support all essential services, including those meant to manage flooding conditions

The cruise ship operators associations have already reviewed operational safety issues following the Costa Concordia incident and have introduced new guidelines for their members, these include;

  • Muster drills to be conducted prior to departure and guidance on what should be covered under the drills
  • Recording the nationality of passengers
  • Limiting bridge access to those with specific operational responsibilities, particularly during periods of restricted manoeuvring.
  • Bridge team procedures for agreeing and implementing the ship passage planning
  • Additional lifejackets (in excess of current legislation) to be carried and stored at or near the muster stations.

IMO has already agreed draft amendments to SOLAS requiring the muster drill to be conducted prior or immediately upon departure, instead of “within 24 hours”.

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