After the grounding of Costa Concordia in January, the governing organizations of the cruise industry ordered an Operational Safety Review both in response to the troubling Concordia grounding and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures. Now, the review is complete and has resulted in three new policies that promise to address safety concerns.
These three new policies, which go beyond international regulatory requirements, address safety issues related to passage planning, personnel access to the bridge and lifejackets. Each of these three policies will be reported to the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration at their next session in May.
“As highlighted by these wide-ranging policies, we continue to take proactive measures to improve the safety of passengers and crew across the globe,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in a Wall Street Journal statement.
The three policies answer questions asked about specific topics concerning the Costa Concordia grounding:
Passage Planning – The topic of “passage planning” came up concerning reports that the captain of Costa Concordia had chosen to take the ship off course as a salute, a show of respect, for a retired captain that lived ashore.
Under the new policy each passage plan is to be thoroughly briefed to all bridge team members well in advance of its implementation and it is to be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the master.
Personnel Access To The Bridge – At one point in the investigation of the Costa Concordia grounding, it was believed that unauthorized personnel were on the navigational bridge at the time of the incident.
To minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions on the bridge, the new policy states that bridge access is to be limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required.
Lifejackets – Although there were plenty of lifejackets on board Costa Concordia, the nature of the accident caused some passengers and crew members to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and not have one.
Under the new rule, in addition to the statutory requirement of carriage of lifejackets for each person onboard, cruise lines have adopted a policy of carrying additional adult lifejackets.
The number of additional adult lifejackets to be provided must not be less than the total number of persons berthed within the ship’s most populated main vertical fire zone. This ensures that the number of lifejackets carried is far in excess of the number of persons actually onboard the ship.
These three rules are in addition to a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory muster for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. That new policy was released previously and also consistent with the industry’s announcement January 27 of a complete safety review in response to the Concordia grounding and as part of the industry’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures.
The Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council, and the Passenger Shipping Association put forward the new policy with the support of their member cruise lines.
Under the new muster policy:
A mandatory muster of all embarking passengers will happen prior to departure from port.
Late arriving passengers will be promptly provided with individual or group safety briefings that meet the requirements for musters applicable under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
The policy is designed to help ensure that any mandatory musters or briefings are conducted for the benefit of all newly embarked passengers at the earliest practical opportunity.
The Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review also included a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. The industry’s efforts also are consistent with the framework and spirit of the International Safety Management Code.
“We look forward to working collaboratively to identify any additional operational issues that will achieve our longstanding goal of continuous improvement and innovation in shipboard operations and safety,” added Duffy.
[Flickr photo by darkroom productions]