Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Sea Is A Cruel Mistress

Normally, when one reads about a ship running aground or colliding with another ship, a mariner will think something along the lines of "There but for the grace of God go I".

The wreck of the Costa Concordia off the Italian coast does not seem to be one of those times, and serves once again as a reminder that a well-trained crew and well-maintained ship are the best defense against the dangers of the sea. I'm sure the inquiry will provide more information about how exactly the crew screwed up, but initial reports sure make it seem like this tragedy could have easily been avoided.

Update 17 Jan, 1523: It looks like there's proof that the "captain" left the ship before the evacuation was completele and, basically, behaved like a complete coward. I'm normally not a fan of piling on, but if it turns out this guy did what they're claiming he did, I'd be all for the maximum public humiliation. A ship's captain gets a lot of nice things, but it comes at the price of possibly having to stay with your sinking ship if there are people still onboard. Someone who voluntarily signs up for the bennies without being willing to pay the possible piper is among the lowest of the low in my book.


Blogger Mike Golch said...

it is sad to see any ship die this way

1/14/2012 10:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's been speculation that it wasn't just a single casualty, but a cascade of them that caused this. Isn't that how it always happens?

Massive electrical failure followed by loss of navigational awareness combined with that area of the Med is a recipe for, well, that picture.

1/14/2012 10:38 PM

Blogger SJV said...

Which cruise line was it that had an electrical failure a few years ago?

1/15/2012 7:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We always used every navigational tool at our disposal when transiting shallow or rocky areas, especially around Italy. If they depended on only GPS and computer maps, they were I'll prepared and this is the direct result.

1/15/2012 7:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

SLV, Carnival was the one who had the electrical failure off the coast of San Diego (CARNIVAL SPLENDOR). Costa is the European equivalent to Carnival (Costa is owned by Carnival), and this is the same ship class as the SPLENDOR. They were actually built concurrently right next to each other, and their engineering and navigational systems are identical.
I've heard rumors from my friends who work on Carnival and Costa that there was an engineering "event" that took place almost immediately before the grounding, but that's all they are at this moment. There's also been initial statements that there was a soft grounding that caused the engineering event and then the fatal blow occurred.
One other thing to keep in mind: The ship is resting a mile or so away from the incident point, and was driven to where she is now to assist in the evacuation... of course that also helped the Captain and most of the officers to literally jump ship.

ET2(SS) now LT, USN

1/15/2012 7:46 AM

Blogger Clayton said...

If memory serves there was a cruise ship sinking a few years ago in Med. Also an Italian crew which abandoned the vesel and passengers. Investigation identified several errors/issues with crew readiness, leaderhip, etc.

1/15/2012 8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HOLY CRAP - Did you see the size of the whole on the port side. There is even a HUGE boulder imbedded in the whole. They must have been traveling at a good rate of speed to get that crammed in thre!

1/15/2012 11:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

scary part with the gash on the port side is to imagine the hole in the starboard side... since she foundered to starboard. However big the gash is on the port side (~160ft long), the wound on the starboard must've been at least twice that large.

Update: two more casualties and one more survivor found.


1/15/2012 1:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just came back from a cruise where the safety/muster drill was done prior to sailing while in port. Word is getting out that this was not the case, and the drill took place 2 or 3 hours into the underway. If this is the case, major negligence on the part of the cruise line.

Just curious if any briefing/drill takes place for civilian riders while on a boat or ship?

1/15/2012 1:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No new lessons were learned."

1/15/2012 1:55 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

anon @ 1:33: "Word is getting out that this was not the case, and the drill took place 2 or 3 hours into the underway. If this is the case, major negligence on the part of the cruise line."

IMO/SOLAS requires that the "Muster Drill" be conducted "within 24 hours of departure" (Though we all know that, in practice, it's done prior to departure).

@Clayton, that was a Greek ship/crew (MV Sea Diamond back in '07)

Be interesting to see how this shakes out. Good on the Master for getting the ship to the shallows (Bets on the table that she'll be back in service within 12 months), bad on him for putting himself in a situation where he HAD to.

1/15/2012 3:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here's what I've got...

Below is the research I've pulled thus far. As far as I can tell, a lack of situational awareness is how I'm leaning. It APPEARS to this NAV-ET that whomever was standing bridge watch wanted to come in close and show the gleaming lights of Giglio Island and hit the outcropping IVO "Le Scole."

(SPECULATION) From the best I can figure it, he probably thought he was about 1/2 mile from shoal water and freaked when his gear started screaming at him... threw the rudder hard over and that was all she wrote.

A lot of you are more seasoned than I, so I welcome some feedback, but that's what I'm seeing from the data I have right now.


First is the AIS track for the CONCORDIA:

Second is NGA's chart for the area in question:

Finally, CONCORDIA's track data of what she actually did:
Time Lat Long Head Speed
2021 42’19”39.86N 11’03”39.86E 278 15.7
2024 42’19”46.03N 11’02”35.90E 278 15.5
2029 42’19”57.00N 11’00”50.23E 278 15.4
2033 42’20”05.45N 10’59”15.68E 276 15.4
2037 42’20”15.50N 10’57”57.81E 285 15.5
2053 42’22”01.91N 10’55”32.59E 351 2.9

1/15/2012 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was anyone else relieved to see that imbedded boulder in the port-side gash, offering proof that a submarine wasn't somehow involved?

1/15/2012 4:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the facts, details, requirements (law) behind the captain being held criminally liable as reported? I can understand negligence in other instances where life was lost. Is it the same in this mishap? Did he actually abandon his passengers?

1/15/2012 4:09 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"What are the facts, details, requirements (law) behind the captain being held criminally liable as reported?"

For the moment, it's more a question of local Italian law (she was in Italian TTW with Italian citizens aboard) than one of Admiralty law. From past incidents, the Italians seem to be somewhat Draconian in their treatment of passenger liner officers. At some point, a decision will be made in Admiralty Court as to who has prosecutorial jurisdiction and what, if any, charges may be levied.

1/15/2012 4:17 PM

Anonymous academic writer needed uk said...

THasnk for post! THanks very bad new!

1/16/2012 4:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Latest I have read is the head waiter had friends on the island and the Captain deviated from his course to go swooping by and blatt the ships whistle when, as he stated, "hit an uncharted rock". A foolish act that had tragic consequences. Completely avoidable grounding, at least to this ex-QM.

1/16/2012 3:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The head waiter had told his story to coast guards and will be interviewed by the authorities investigating the cruise disaster, the paper Corriere della Sera has reported.

Shortly before the accident the captain called head waiter Antonello Tievoli to the bridge saying, "Antonello, come see, we are very close to your Giglio," said witnesses quoted by the newspaper.

Tievoli had been due for leave the week before but had to remain on board because a replacement could not be found, the paper said.

Schettino was trying to give him some pleasure by steering the huge cruise ship close to the rocky coasts of the Tuscan island, the report said.

The paper quoted witnesses as claiming Tievoli, standing on the bridge, had said to the captain just before the accident happened: "Careful, we are extremely close to the shore."

The story has some obvious holes for investigators to probe, and they certainly will.


1/16/2012 4:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss Lamadd in August.

1/16/2012 5:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ret anav: you might want to stop taking bets -- published maritime insurance company sources both here and in today's New York Times are calling it a total loss ($500M+).

1/16/2012 7:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wikipedia article on Costa Concordia is fairly informative as well:

1/16/2012 8:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone post a link to the A-gang Chief hitler parody. Watched the Broncos-Steelers one recently linked here and my search efforts failed to find it but I know it was linked here. Thanks in advance!

1/16/2012 8:22 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT: Here is the A-gang Hitler parody.

1/16/2012 8:38 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

"@ret anav: you might want to stop taking bets"

Interesting. Yeah, at $570M to build, it doesn't take much in the way of 10-keying skills to figure where this is going.

1/17/2012 4:35 AM

Anonymous ew-3 said...

"Was anyone else relieved to see that imbedded boulder in the port-side gash, offering proof that a submarine wasn't somehow involved?"

If you look very closely to the left of the boulder you can see the bottom of a sailboat. Perhaps instead of a sub, it was a sailboat that was somehow involved.

1/17/2012 6:36 AM

Blogger Buck said...

@anon 1/15/2012 1:33 PM

When I was on a SSN Tiger cruise all of us civilians were in crew's mess as we left the pier for a safety brief that included understanding how to find breathing manifolds in the dark. Several years later I'm pretty sure I could find the right places with my feet.

1/17/2012 9:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Italian Coast Guard did all they could to coordinate efforts with the so-called "captain".

1/17/2012 10:18 AM

Anonymous 3383 said...

I'm wondering how the captain made it to captain.

1/17/2012 11:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gives new meaning to TSSBP.

1/17/2012 2:13 PM

Blogger Greg said...

Anytime the S&R folks are blowing holes in the side of a ship, I think it's safe to say that she is, as they say in the marine insurance world, a "Constructive Total Loss"

1/17/2012 5:41 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Yeah, TSSBP, but in this case, a lot of innocent people paid the price with their lives. Clancy said it best in Red Storm Rising: "...the problem known to sailors since men first went to sea: the ocean will try very hard to kill you if you lack the respect she demands."

This guy is a one-man argument for bringing back keelhauling. And that's some SERIOUS shit on a 115,000 ton ship.

1/18/2012 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The (former) cruise ship captain is at the receiving end of a much-deserved shit storm for grandstanding in restricted and dangerous waters and losing his ship and what appears to be dozens of lives in the process. His catching a blast of shit and likely an extended jail term are inarguably deserved.

But I will give him this much:

(1) AFTER he'd fucked up in a major way by getting the ship ripped open on the port side, he apparently had the clarity of mind to turn to shore to get the ship in shallow water, intentionally grounding it. Stop and think about it: that's a no-shit, one-way, zero chance for recovery, difficult decision...and he did make it (apparently correctly). Even though it was clearly HIS fuck-up to begin with, the ship could indeed have gone down with nearly all hands. That scenario thankfully did not happen, and yes it was the same fuck-up skipper that prevented it.

(2) The Italian Coast Guard's recorded scream-fest at the (former) captain strikes me as being a little too convenient to the CG's own PR efforts. Not saying the ex-captain was right to leave the ship, but once he was off there doesn't appear to have been any way for him to physically get back on board (on top of the vessel) without being literally dropped there.

The CG officer was directing him to climb up the same sole ladder that a hundred people or so were climbing down. That's somehow helpful direction-giving? Not. The CG should have arrested him if necessary, picked him up and helo'd the guy's ass back on board if they thought that would truly have been helpful somehow. But screaming obscenities and dumbshit 'orders' strikes me as simply political CYA bullshit.

Just sayin'.

1/18/2012 12:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a satellite view of the aground cruise ship.

Sad sight for such a magnificent ship.

Condolences to the families in grief.

1/18/2012 3:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"(1) AFTER he'd fucked up in a major way by getting the ship ripped open on the port side, he apparently had the clarity of mind to turn to shore to get the ship in shallow water, intentionally grounding it."

Good point but it's kinda like winning a gold medal in the special the end you are still a r****d.

Look at the SAN FRAN. The CO ran his boat aground and then was given high praise for fighting the casualty and getting the boat back to port. He did deserve the kudos for getting the ship back. But, in the end.....

As the title says, "The Sea Is A Cruel Mistress".

1/20/2012 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

vI don't think the comparison the the San Fran is a good one. In the case of SF, the sea mount they hit was charted incorrectly, so they were driving fast down a path that was charted as clear and bang! The circumstance was not of the CO's making. CO's responsible regardless, so he still owns it, but for the cruise ship, the Captain created the situation.

It's a question of how one handled the situation compared to how the other created the situation.


1/20/2012 11:49 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Um.....where to begin.....?

1/20/2012 4:58 PM

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1/26/2012 11:20 AM

Blogger Scott in GA said...

Not sure I agree with the "there but for the Grace of God go I" thought. I have never read of a collision at sea or a grounding where I didn't think "how are people so damned stupid." (Atlanta-Gibraltar thing, the Greeneville idiot...). It turns out that when you do what you're supposed to do, bad things don't happen.

1/26/2012 11:27 AM

Anonymous Jim Houston said...

I've been watching this one- must be the Nav in my bones...turns out he pretty much drove the boat into the rocks. Turned late, didn't account for advance and transfer for a higher speed. However, it seems that these close passes of the island were fairly common. That won't end well. I've also read several articles addressing the language barriers, poorly trained (and typically exhausted) crew, lack of discipline. I guess it was bound to happen at some point.

1/31/2012 9:21 AM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

Jim, it's (IMO) actually a bit simpler than that...To many people put implicit trust in their equipment and, perhaps, not enough in their own instincts and abilities.

Trusting your equipment is probably OK, as far as it goes, but many do so without a good understanding of one fundamental principle: It will generally do exactly what you tell it to do. How many times have you seen a "penguin colony" hovering over the ARPA or VMS display? One fundamental question I would LOVE to ask the (former) master of the Costa Concordia: Who was looking out the window?

1/31/2012 3:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One fundamental question I would LOVE to ask the (former) master of the Costa Concordia: Who was looking out the window?"

I believe it was, at a minimum, Antonello Tievoli...the Concordia's maitre d'.

Not helpful? ;-)

1/31/2012 7:37 PM

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