Costa Concordia Casualty Sparks Cruiseship Safety Shake-up

A ban on unnecessary access to the bridge and improved controls on watertight doors are among the measures expected to be unveiled at a conference on passengership safety due to be held in Brussels today.
The moves come as the European Union launches a consultation on cruise and ferry safety in the wake of the Costa Concordia casualty in January, which led to the deaths of at least 30 people.

Speakers at the gathering will include EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, who is likely to stress the need for the highest possible standards of safety for passengers on board ships in Europe. His representatives were not immediately available to discuss the content of his speech.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the European Cruise Council trade association will propose tighter rules on access to bridges.

This is seen as a safety issue after Costa Concordia master Francesco Schettino apparently invited a young woman whom he had befriended to observe him at work.

The ECC is also proposing more vigorous pre-planning of vessel routes and better monitoring, to ensure that they are being followed.

This question arose during the Costa Concordia incident after Capt Schettino allegedly made an unauthorised detour to sail the Costa Cruises vessel close to the coastline of the island of Giglio.

Finally, the ECC is also said to be suggesting lifebelt provision at more points on deck, with the aim of reducing the time taken to find a lifebelt.

A spokesman for the ECC said: “We reached an agreement with the European Commission that we would not comment before we launched the proposals at this conference. Because we have made and entered into that commitment with them, we are not able to comment before then.”

The commission has also launched a consultation exercise that is open to submissions until July 5.
Among the steps being considered are closer checks on who is on board a ship at any time, and a ruling that watertight doors in bulkheads be opened only when essential.

The consultation stretches beyond ships made of steel to take in boats made of wood or glass fibre where they are engaged in the carriage of passengers.


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