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Costa cruise line in safety review

Italian cruise line Costa Crociere SpA has unveiled new safety measures following the deadly grounding of its ship off Tuscany, saying it will now have real-time tracking of its ships' routes and will impose limits on its captains' absolute authority.

The measures seek to respond to many of the problems involved in the Costa Concordia disaster.

The ship rammed into a reef on January 13 after the captain veered off course in an apparent stunt, and then capsized off the island of Giglio, killing 32 people.

Many passengers complained they hadn't received safety evacuation training, even though they had boarded days before.

Costa says such training will now be provided before passengers even board, and that a monitoring system will flag passengers who missed out.

Passengers also said the captain delayed the evacuation alarm for nearly an hour after the initial grounding until the ship was listing so perilously that lifeboats could not be lowered down. Costa said new bridge procedures stipulate that the captain is not the only one who issues orders.

Members of his team also take part in making decisions, particularly during special navigation procedures like pulling into port, Costa said.

The Concordia captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all passengers had been evacuated.

He is accused of taking the ship off its charted course to bring it closer to Giglio in an apparent flyby. He claims the reef he hit - identified on all tourist maps of Giglio - was not on his nautical charts.

Costa has said Schettino's route change was unknown to the company and unauthorised. To ensure such a manoeuvre does not happen again, Costa said it was launching a fleet-wide monitoring system that allows the company to follow the routes of its vessels in real-time and pinpoint the exact location of each ship to detect any unexpected changes in course.


From Belfast Telegraph