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Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia Report (Assessment)


Abstract

This paper looks at the events surrounding the sinking of Costa Concordia ship. The ship hit the rocks and this resulted in the death of several people and others went missing. The occurrence of this accident is largely attributed to the careless behavior of Captain Schettino. Following this, he was arrested and taken to court but later returned to his home in Italy after the judge granting him a house arrest.

Costa Concordia, weighing 1145000 tones, is the largest passenger ship that has ever been ruined. Following such incidents, this brings fear among those who like going to cruise because they feel the high sea is no longer safe.

Therefore, as it is looked in the paper, it is the responsibility of the cruise companies to ensure they reassure their customers about the sea safety. The cruise officers and staff need to receive adequate training that will enable them do their job in the most appropriate way possible.

Introduction

It was reported that at least six people were confirmed dead and twenty nine more were reported to be missing following an accident that occurred on the night of 13th January 2012, in which Costa Concordia, an Italian cruise ship hit a reef and went aground off Italy close to Isola del Giglio (Rose, 2012).

There were more than more than four thousand people in the ship, including about one thousand crew members and a minimum of three thousand and two hundred. Costa Concordia, weighing 1145000 tones, is the largest passenger ship that has ever been ruined. This ship swiftly “rolled on its side with a long gouge below the waterline right after the dinner had been served on Friday night” (Rose 2012, par.1).

The local coastguard made an assertion that there was some hope that those people who had survived the accident could be found. As the owners of the ship engaged in blaming the captain for changing direction towards the shore on the day of the occurrence of the accident in order to display the huge ship to the local people who lived on the Tuscan island; a large amount of fuel (2300 ton) started causing pollution to the “surrounding Mediterranean waters of the nature reserve” (Rose 2012, par.1).

In this paper, there is going to be a discussion about the events surrounding the sinking of Costa Concordia. The main issues that are going to be discussed include; what happened to this ship on the night of 13 January; what the crew and captain did. What the coastguard response was and the actions that were undertaken in searching the survivors. The paper will also provide a summary about how the cruise lines have reacted to this incident and the new policies that may have been introduced to ensure there is safety at the sea.

Events Surrounding the Costa Concordia Sinking and Who to Blame

It is reported that, while Captain Francesco Schettino together with his officers engaged in guiding Costa Concordia and the four thousand or more people over the waters off the Italian coast on the Friday night, 13 January 2012, “they could avail themselves of a bridge full of navigation equipment that would have made Luke Skywalker jealous” (Higgins, 2012, p.9).

But it is also reported that while the captain was reaching Isola del Giglio and its picturesque villages, impressive church spires, as well as offshore rocks and cliffs, the captain did not obey the first rule of seamanship: “look around, know where you are and keep a safe distance from land” (Higgins, 2012, p.1).

It was pointed out that captain would have done well to have taken some advice into consideration that was offered by Admiral John Smith, the North America colonist and an English explorer. It is said that this person had had his neck saved “from an unappreciative tribe of Native Americans by the chief’s daughter, Pocahontas” (Higgins, 2012, p.9).

According to Higgins (2012), the investigators from Italy would spent months engaging in grilling the officers of Costa Concordia, undertaking interviews with the eyewitnesses that were on the ship and those that were on Giglio, and searching data from the black box of the ship in order to find out how Costa Concordia “came to grief with a gash in its side” (Higgins, 2012, p.9).

After the disaster, the initial conclusion that was drawn by he authorities facilitated painting of a disturbingly simple image. It is reported that Captain Schettino clearly wanted to show off by moving the ship near to the shore to bring about an exhibition for the tourists that were on Giglio and the passengers who were onboard.

It is pointed out that the statement that came from the owner of Costa Concordia ship went as follows; “while investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences” (Higgins, 2012, p.9).

The early explanation that was made by Captain Schettino was that, at a time he had not yet he been whisked away by carabinieri and arrested for allegedly committing manslaughter and engaging in abandoning his ship, the rocks that were hit rocks were unchartered and he could not have known that these rocks were there (Higgins, 2012, p.9).

It is further pointed out that the captain admitted that he was engaging in the maneuvering the vessel in what he referred to as “touristic navigation”. The captain said that they were navigating about three hundred meters from the rocks and there should not have been there such a rock.

It was indicated on the nautical chart, that, below, there was deep water. However, this suggestion was not accepted by the Australian naval experts.

According to the former commodore in the Royal Australian, called Sam Bateman, he held thoughts that would have been quite unlikely, it is a charted water stretch on and it was almost inconceivable that there would be an uncharted danger to navigation” (Higgins, 2012,p.9).

Kissane (2012) reported in The West Australian that the captain of Costa Concordia was said not to have heeded to the requests that were made to him by the coastguard to leave a lifeboat, where he was said to have taken a place ahead of the women and the children, and to come back to his ship in order to engage in organizing the evacuation.

It is also reported that the captain is said to have not called mayday at the time the ship initially ran into the rocks at about 9.45 PM on Friday 13. An alert to the police was made at about 10.06PM by a passenger through the mobile phone. The police in turn contacted the coastguard.

It is reported that, Captain Schettino did not accept that there was serious trouble at the time he was contacted by the coast guard and did not take a step of issuing a distress call till it was almost fifty minutes after the ship hitting the rocks (Kissane, 2012). The incident had initially left at least six people dead and it has also been reported that more than twenty people were missing (Kissane, 2012).

Corrado Clini, the minister of environment of Italy, took a measure of calling a “state of emergence” over the suspicion of having fuel leaking from the wrecked ship (Kissane, 2012). The minister pointed out that the vessel was in a “nature reserve” and he would give out the emergency funds in order to make efforts to ensure prevention of a likely environmental disaster (Kissane, 2012).

It is reported that on January 17, 2012, there was arriving on Giglio of the elite team of the underwater commandos. They started to utilize dynamite in blowing the hull open in order to create access to the decks that are under water.

On January 18, it was reported that the fresh claims that came in about the conduct of the captain during this incident originated from the phone calls as well as from the exchanges that were recorded by the black box of the ship that were found by Italian news agency and in turn reported by the Times (Kissane, 2012).

The captain was arrested, being charged with manslaughter and ship abandonment. However, the captain returned to his home in Italy after the judge granting him a house arrest, according to what his lawyer said (Kissane, 2012). This ruling was made hours after emerging of audio in which he was recorded. The audio showed that he rejected the orders that came from coastguard to go back to go back to the ship during the height of the calamity (Bloomberg, 2012).

The search for the people affected in the disaster had started on the same day of its occurrence and was resumed on Saturday 14 in January by the emergency workers, “blasting holes into the hulk of the ship” (Reuters, 2012, n.p). One of the coast guard official pointed out that “the movement of the ship is very dangerous…there are big risks, but we all looked each other in the eyes and told each other it was worth it to give the families some solace” (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

At that time, the movement was just some few millimeters per hour. However, this increased fears that the vessel would move in to the deeper waters and this would undermine the plans to engage in pumping about two thousand four hundred tones of fuel from the tanks of the ship (Associated Press and Telegraph Group, 2012).

It was pointed out by the leader of the “Civil Protection Authority”, Franco Gabrielli, that it was vital to commence on recovering of the thick fuel oil as well as the diesel that was trapped on the board in the soonest time possible (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

He said that “our aim is to find the missing; to give certainty about the fate of these people, but it is also a priority to avert an environmental disaster” (Reuters, 2012, n.p). He also pointed out that environmental contamination had already taken place especially when thinking about the “the oils, the solvents, the detergents, everything that a city of 4000 people needs” (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

According to Reuters (2012), in the day that followed after the accident, the body of a lady on the ship was recovered by the diving crews and at this point the number of people who had died following the accident had approached a minimum of twelve. Moreover, at that time, twenty people were not accounted for and the hopes of having other people recovered had all vanished (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

It was also reported by Reuters that the prosecutors pointed out that “Schettino steered the vessel within 150 meters of Giglio island to perform a maneuver known as ‘salute’ – a greeting to the islanders” (Reuters, 2012, n.p). According to Reuters, Schettino accepted that the ship went very near to the shore. However, he did not admit carrying the individual blame, pointing out that there might have been involvement of other issues (Reuters, 2012).

Basing on the records of the questioning of the captain that was undertaken by the court prosecutors which found their way to the media of Italy, Captain Schettino said that a short while after hitting the reef, he took a step of sending his officers for them to go to the engine room to engage in checking on the vessel’s condition.

The moment he came to realize the extent of the destruction, he called the marine operations director of the Costa cruises by the name Roberto Ferrarini and said to him, “I have got myself into a mess, there was contact with the seabed. I am telling out the truth, we passed under Giglio and there was an impact” (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

He also pointed out that “I cant remember how many times I called him in the following hour and 15 minutes…in any case, I am certain that I informed Ferrarini about everything in real time” (Reuters, 2012, n.p). He also pointed out that he had requested the company to take an immediate measure of sending helicopters as well as tug boats (Reuters, 2012).

But on the other hand, according to the company’s Chief Executive, the captain was not prompt enough in undertaking the SOS issuing as well as the evacuation orders and did not provide true information to the company. According to the Executive director, the captain was not actually honest with the company.

He further pointed out that the initial talk on the phone that was held by Ferrarini with Schettino occurred twenty minutes after crash reef and this, according to him, was too late.

He also pointed out that the company had only came to a realization of the level of the calamity at the time of issuing of the evacuation order, a thing the prosecutors pointed out that it occurred one hour later after the initial conversation that was held between Ferrarini and Schettino (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

The documents that were made from his hearing with a court judge point out that he had portrayed “incredible careless and total inability to manage the successive phases of the emergency” (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

The conversations that had been taped give out a revelation that the ship’s bridge “told cost guards alerted by passengers the vessel had only suffered a black-out even after those on board had donned life vests” (Reuters, 2012, n.p).

According to the Telegraph Group (2012) the captain of Costa Concordia was actually drinking and eating with a blonde Moldovan woman a short time before the ship ran aground off the Giglio Island. The woman, whose name is said to be Domnica Cemortan, who was a passenger and a former dancer, is said to have been on the bridge with the captain on the night when the ship capsized.

It was reported that on 20th January 2012,a number of passengers said that they saw the captain together with a woman who resembled Miss Cemortan “dinning and sharing a decanter of red wine just before the disaster” (Telegraph Group, 2012, n.p). The assertion made by Italian media was that Cemortan had received an invitation to go to the bridge of the Concordia on Friday night when the disaster occurred.

She is reported to have been there at the time the accident occurred. It is also reported that Cemortan agreed on 20 January that she had been on the bridge with the captain, who is married and has a daughter. However, she kept on insisting that she was not on the bridge and it only up to the time the crash was over when she was called on to offer her assistance in addressing the passengers who came from Russia (Costa Concordia, 2012).

Miss Cemortan engaged in defending Captain Schettino as well as the crew members against the criticism in regard to the evacuation. She said that “he did a great thing, he saved over 300 lives” (Telegraph Group, 2012, n.p).

This lady speaks the Russian language and had engaged in working in the capacity of a hostess in an Italian cruise company, but her contract had reached its expiry time and she was on holiday at the time of disaster.

Measures Taken and Policies Put In Place by Cruise Lines after the Costa Concordia Incident and Improving Sea Safety

It is pointed out that “timing is everything and from the beginning, since the Costa Concordia ship disaster began, Carnival Cruise lines have had time on their side” (Mustard, 2012, par.1). The definition of the crisis management is given as:

The act, manner, or practice of managing, supervising or controlling a situation, protecting a company’s name, brand and consumer loyalty, preserving its reputation as much as its shareholder stock, and mitigating or minimizing to as much a degree as possible negative consumer public perceptions (Mustard, 2012, par.2).

In this line, it is reported that, by all means, Burson-Marsteller which is the PR organization called in to deal with “the ship sinking disaster on day three after the occurrence of the accident on the Carnival Cruise Lines’ behave is undertaking its activities in a brilliant way in dealing with the Costa Concordia Ship Sinking Disaster” (Mustard, 2012, par.2).

It is reported that a panel of the cruise experts took a step of holding an international media briefing on January 19, 2012, that was intended to set “jittery cruisers at ease days after the tragic sinking of Costa Concordia” (Richard, 2012, par.1).

And as on one hand every person goes on to engage in wondering about his or her return to the seas, on the other hand, it is quite apparent that this disaster will bring an impact on the future of the cruising industry in two main ways. One of them is in regard with the way the standards for the safety of cruise ship will be and the other way is in regard with whether or not the passenger bookings as well as the profitability of cruise line will fall.

The reassurances that are expected were offered to people that were soured in regard with this industry, in light of the broadly exposed vivid images of the destroyed Costa Concordia and the utter pandemonium of the upsetting escape that came up. It is also reported that the social media channels have been seen exploding with the cruise naysayers in the aftermath of the incident, “while the parallels to the Titanic, which will be commemorating the centennial of sinking in April, have found a timely tie-in” (Richard, 2012, par.3).

It is reported that the panel whose posting was done by “umbrella cruise operator groups” such as PSA, CLIA, ECC, engaged in striving to paint the Costa Concordia sinking as being a tragic anomaly which is unusual within the cruise industry. Having the ship’s sinking greatly attributed to the unpleasant human error, this panel gave description of cruising as being among the kinds of vacation travel that are safe, with a concrete safety evidence as back up.

It is reported that the “passenger Ship Safety Conference Panel” that was convened on January 19 made a vow that while there are still a lot of questions that have not been answered which surround the unfortunate Costa Concordia ship, the cruising industry would make application of the lessons that were learned from this disastrous event in order to further carry out enhancement of the safety of cruise ship across the world (Richard, 2012).

It was pointed out that while there are no expectations of seeing any immediate far-reaching changes undertaken in the cruising industry at large, inspection of the present internal safety practices “are poised to sound a wake-up all for greater regulations” (Richard, 2012, par.4).

It is pointed out that “the hot topics du jour, which will certainly garner further investigation, surrounded requiring passenger safety drills; enforcing the level of training of cruise officers and staff, ensuring operations of lifeboats many of those on Concordia cited confusing time-consuming announcements in multiple languages” (Richard, 2012, par.4).

This panel made an assurance that the end toward the ever-big cruise ships did not bring in a threat of more hardships to ships that are smaller in size, pointing out that they beneficially offered “a bigger platform to work with in regards to evacuation” (Richard, 2012, par.4).

According to Richard (2012), the setting up of IMO is undertaken in order to engage in carrying out of a detailed evaluation of the Costa occurrence, although it could take several years before making official recommendations on carrying out improvement on the safety of the cruise ships.

In the meantime, there was initiation of an exploration into the practices, on 18 January, linked to the safety of the cruise ships by a “United States Congressional committee” and plans were set up of having a hearing in the month of February, 2012, with hopes of evading any possibility of facing a similar disaster on the cruise ships that call on the U.S ports in the future (Richard, 2012).

It is also reported that after the Costa Concordia sinking, the cruise companies have engaged in bracing for a fall out, while the investors commenced on dumping their shares some few days after the Costa Concordia incident, in the Carnival Corporation, which is the parent company to eleven cruising companies, “bearing the brunt of it, and Royal Caribbean cruises falling closely behind” (Richard, 2012, par.5).

It was pointed out that Carnival carried out an estimation that the shipwreck alone would bring in costs of almost ninety five million dollars in lost earnings. The uncertainties that came in is that the cruise vacations bookings would fall, as the disaster took place at the time the ‘wave season’ was high, which is the “peak booking period of the industry” (Richard, 2012).

The panel that was set up gave out a hope, and was giving out advice that as on one hand they were not able to make prediction about the future, but on the other hand, they had not yet undertaken discernment of any particular changes in booking (Richard, 2012).

Finally, there are expectations that the ships of carnival will come together with the rest of the cruise companies and will bring down the level of the ticket costs in an effort to entice the passengers, who are spooked, back on the ship It is also pointed out that, as for Costa Cruises itself, it’s unclear that discounted rates will suffice: “it takes years for the brand to regain its credibility and recover from its tarnished image – it manages to do so at all” (Richard, 2012, par.5).

Conclusion and Recommendations

On the night of January 13, 2012, Costa Concordia cruise ship hit rocks and went aground off Italy close to Isola del Giglio. This ship was carrying more than four thousand people and among these, there were at least three thousand and two hundred passengers and one thousand crew members.

Costa Concordia, weighing 1145000 tones, is the largest passenger ship that has ever been broken down. This accident led to the death of several people and a number of efforts were made in order to save lives. At some point, the rescue process was halted for some time when there was moving of the ruin on rocks and this caused the divers’ work to become much more complex as they had already been obstructed by reduced visibility as well as sea debris and the dropping objects.

The occurrence of this accident is largely blamed on the ship’s captain. Basing on what was found out, it was the captain’s careless conduct that made the ship to hit the rocks. He moved the ship close to the shore, just to “show off” to the people of the island, forgetting that this could cause an accident. It is also reported that the captain was drinking and dining with a girl just before the vessel sank. This might have diverted his attention causing him to be careless.

The captain has denied all the charges presented against him and he points out that he is not the one to blame for the accident but rather, that should be blamed on other factors, despite the fact the company and some eye witnesses pointing some evidence that could incriminate him. He was arrested and charged against manslaughter and for abandoning the ship but later the judge let him to return to his home after the judge granting him a house arrest.

The occurrence of such an accident actually makes people to feel that it is not safe to go cruising again. The impact of this is reduced profitability for the cruise lines. Moreover, such the affected cruise line like Costa Concordia may no longer have an appealing brand image.

Therefore, following this, the cruising companies need to take appropriate measures to avoid the occurrence of such incidents as on faced by Costa Concordia. For instance, to avoid careless conduct among the captains, strict rules should be in place to guide their behavior while doing their work.

For instance, they should not be allowed to drink carelessly to a level of forgetting their work. Moreover, the cruise officers and staff should receive more training in order for them to work effectively. This may include knowing how to go about it, should an accident come about, in order to save lives.

More over, there should be ensuring operations of lifeboats. A large number of them that were on Concordia were found out to be confusing consuming much time announcements in many languages. It is also important for the cruise lines to use all the possible means, especially Costa Concordia, to entice customers to continue using their services. They might do this through price cuts among other possible incentives.

References

Associated Press and Telegraph Group, (2012). Ship captain accused of showing off to tourists. The West Australian, n.p.

Bloomberg, (2012). Captain put under house arrest. The Australian, n.p.

Costa Concordia, (2012). Ship’s captain ‘drinking with dancer on night of tragedy’. Web.

Higgins, E. (2012). Off-course for a maritime disaster. The Australian, n.p

Kissane, K. (2012). Captain jumped lifeboat queue. The West Australia, p.9

Mustard, J. (2012). : Burson-Marsteller bestows brilliant crisis counseling for client, Carnival Cruise Lines. Web.

Reuters, (2012). . Web.

Richard, E. (2012). . Web.

Rose, M. (2012). Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Accident: Six passengers dead in tragic Italian ship sinking. Web.

Telegraph Group, (2012). Captain was drinking with blonde before ship disaster. The Australia, n.p.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 20). Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/investigative-report-on-the-costa-concordia/

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"Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia." IvyPanda, 20 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/investigative-report-on-the-costa-concordia/.

1. IvyPanda. "Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/investigative-report-on-the-costa-concordia/.


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IvyPanda. "Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/investigative-report-on-the-costa-concordia/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/investigative-report-on-the-costa-concordia/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Investigative Report on the Costa Concordia'. 20 May.

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