Tag Archives: SOLAS

The long and winding pilot ladder

This picture has just come across my WhatsApp…


… and the pilot scaled that.


2014/04/03 · 20:33

CRUISE SAFETY: Did the EU ignore expert warnings?

A disturbing text by Christopher Booker, columnist of The Telegraph (read the whole column at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/9030330/The-EU-ignored-years-of-expert-warnings-on-cruise-ship-safety.html). The brackets, bolds and italics are mine:

When the headlines were filled last weekend with the sinking of the Costa Concordia, I checked the entry for the doomed cruise liner on Wikipedia and was intrigued to see that the ship was named in honour of “continuing harmony, unity, and peace between European nations” (as confirmed by the “ring of stars” shown prominently on its prow). What an apt metaphor, I mused, for the fate of that other monument to European harmony, the euro, which seems similarly to be half-sunk on a rocky ledge from which at any moment it may slide off to the bottom.

But there then came to light a much more disturbing link between the ill-fated liner and the EU. Regulating for the safety of ships is a “competence” long since handed over to Brussels. It emerges (through the researches of my colleague Richard North on his EU Referendum blog) that a whole series of studies, funded by the EU, has been carried out since 2004 by an international team of experts, led by Professor Dracos Vassalos of the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, warning of precisely the disaster that followed the holing of the Costa Concordia.

The problem repeatedly addressed by Professor Vassalos and his team is what happens to cruise liners when they are holed below the waterline. Because of the network of bulkheads now customary in such “mega ships”, even small amounts of water which break in may be forced to the ship’s opposite side, causing it quickly to capsize.

“As the hull is breached,” one of their papers says [on item 4.2 (a)] , “water may rush through various compartments, substantially reducing stability even when the floodwater amount is small. As a result the ship could heel to large angles – letting water into the upper decks that spreads rapidly through these spaces and may lead to rapid capsize.” Hence what happened to the Costa Concordia, which was holed on the port side but after grounding, which forced water across the ship, then listed dramatically to starboard.

Prof Vassalos and his colleagues have been warning of this with increasing urgency for eight years. As they put it in [the summary of] a paper published in 2007 by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, “the regulatory system is stretched to breaking point”. But even though their researches were part-funded by the EU, it took no notice of their findings. In 2009, for instance, it issued a new directive adding little to one from 1998 before this fatal design flaw had come to light.

One reason, it seems, for the EU’s extraordinary failure on this issue is that regulation for ship safety is handled at a global level by the International Maritime Organisation, which moves at an even more glacial pace. Brussels is reluctant to take unilateral action because, it has been told by European shipping interests, this could lead to the industry escaping from the EU to countries not under its jurisdiction.

So when David Cameron last week assured MPs that “if changes need to be made we will make them”, he forgot to inform them that the UK has no power any longer to regulate for ship safety, because we have surrendered it to the European Commission. On Friday, it assured us that it would be “taking fully into account any lessons to be learned from the Costa Concordia tragedy”.

Since the Commission has already managed to ignore all the lessons it might have learned from the research it has been funding since 2004, prospective cruise passengers should perhaps proceed with caution.

It would seem that the Costa Concordia disaster was, after all, the result of an long, persistent accumulation of small and not-so-small errors, mixed together by indifference, greed and pride.

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Safer lifeboats: a step ahead

"A lifeboat containing three workers was being lifted back to its stowed position aboard the oil rig, the Pride Rio de Janeiro, following a lifeboat drill when the boat's sternhook failed, dropping the lifeboat and the workers approximately 60 feet into the harbor.

Draft guidelines to ensure release mechanisms for lifeboats are replaced with those complying with new, stricter safety standards have been agreed by the 53rd session of the Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE) in order to reduce the number of accidents involving lifeboats, particularly those which have occurred during drills or inspection.

The draft Guidelines for evaluation and replacement of lifeboat on-load release mechanisms will be submitted to the Maritime Safety Committee in May (MSC 87) for approval, alongside the anticipated adoption of amendments to the International Life-Saving Appliances (LSA) Code and the Recommendation on testing of LSA, which require safer design of on-load release mechanisms, as well as a related draft amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), chapter III Life-saving appliances, which will require lifeboat on-load release mechanisms not complying with the new LSA Code requirements to be replaced no later than the next scheduled dry-docking of the ship following entry into force of the SOLAS amendments.

The Sub-Committee recommended that Administrations and shipowners be strongly urged to use the guidelines to evaluate existing lifeboat on-load release mechanisms at the earliest available opportunity, in advance of the entry into force of the new SOLAS and LSA Code amendments.

With information from IMO and Safety at Sea International

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At sea, never take things for granted. It may kill you.

By Jason Faustino — The Daily Tribune,


Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza yesterday blamed the series of sea tragedies, eight of which were recorded in the past two years, to “human error.”

Mendoza said such cause was traceable to lack of competent seafarers and ship maintenance crew.

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