Six months after the tragic crash of the giant cruise ship Costa Concordia, the European Cruise Council and the Cruise Lines International Association have announced the implementation of two new safety policies, according to news reports. The safety measures target major problems that plagued the Concordia, one of Carnival Cruise Line‘s fleet, in the hours after the crash: evacuation and tracking passengers. According to the leaders of the two organizations, these new policies should help ensure that in the future, cruise ship accidents will be handled much better than that of the Concordia.
“Our industry continues to actively identify a range of measures that will improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is the top priority of the cruise industry,” CLIA CEO and President Christine Duffy reportedly told the press upon announcing the new policies, which are clearly geared at preemptively stopping catastrophes like the Concordia crash. “We are taking a holistic look at safety, as has been evidenced by the breadth and scope of the numerous policies that have been developed and adopted as part of the Review since its launch earlier this year.”
It remains to be seen whether the investment in the new policies will pay off. On January 13, 2012, Captain Francesco Schettino mistakenly steered the 114-gross ton ship into rocks off the coast of Giglio Island, putting 4,000 lives at risk. The ensuing disarray, including a delayed evacuation, alleged bribes from wealthy passengers, and a captain who abandoned ship well before evacuation efforts completed, resulted in 32 deaths and dozens of injuries. Schettino, who quickly became the subject of international outrage and criticism, holed up in his home in Italy after the government put him on house arrest. He faces charges of manslaughter.
The first new cruise ship safety policy is called the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions and is meant to provide a cohesive information network for passengers during crisis. The policy stipulates that members of the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) and ECC (European Cruise Council) must impart twelve standardized pieces of information to passengers during emergency proceedings, including tips on recognizing emergency exits and information about emergency routes and measures on the ship. Such a policy may have saved the lives of some who died in the Concordia disaster, especially those whose bodies were found in the inner parts of the ship.
The second newly minted policy, the Nationality of Passengers policy, requires that passengers and cruise ship staff disclose the nationalities of passengers to search and rescue staff, making it easier for rescuers (and countries) to keep track of who has been rescued and who has not. In the Concordia wreck, passengers from dozens of countries were involved, complicating matters as rescuers worked and survivors struggled to replace lost passports and other documents.
Meanwhile, workers in Italy are attempting to refloat the wreck of the Costa Concordia. Removing the liner from its’ perch upon the rocks surrounding the island will help minimize damage to a neighboring wildlife zone, according to the press. The complicate operation is expected to take two years.