MERT Worldwide – Costa Concordia Report

MERT Worldwide – Ship groundings and sinking

The Costa Concordia report is an account of events leading up to the incident and subsequent actions of some personnel. I am not questioning its accuracy and I do not intend to speculate, but what it does is leave me asking more questions.

I would like to see a report that identifies ‘Lessons Learned.  This will not happen until there is a verdict from the pending criminal court cases.  Pending criminal charges will also have an effect on the lessons learned report being released. I will write on the Costa Concordia Report in more detail in my next post.

Since the Costa grounding there have been several more ship groundings and one as recent as March 2013. Fortunately, none resulting in loss of life or as dramatic as the Costa Concordia incident nevertheless they ran aground. The latest is a Shell vessel in Alaska (March 2013).

How do groundings occur? Are they the result of; poor weather, act of god, human error, fatigue or equipment malfunction. Whatever the reason many are preventable and the Costa Concordia was a preventable tragedy.

A Hallin Marine vessel ran aground in February 2013, they breached the hull and unfortunately, that ship sank many hours later after the grounding.

I was asked, “If I could have saved the ship”? In this case and my answer was yes.

Without going into any detail of the actual damage and location of the damage, good Damage Control conducted by competent crew would have saved the ship. The crew’s action or limited action at the start of the incident resulted in their ship sinking. Instead the crews initial actions were to put on their life jackets and muster at their life raft station. This is a natural human response and expected as they fair for their lives.  However, it took the ship several hours before it finally gave in to the sea and sank to the seabed.

Closing watertight doors/hatches and limiting the spread of water ingress was key in this incident to saving the ship. Watertight control was not achieved and the spread of floodwater meant it was a matter of time before the ship would sink.

Another question asked of me was, “How do you change the actions of crew (Change the culture), to try and control damage, if that fails then as a last resort abandon ship”?

The solution is training, coaching and empowering crew to have the confidence to try to reduce the flow of water to a rate that ship salvage pumps can handle as well as setting and maintaining flood boundaries.

Sadly, I find myself repeating a common theme with all the posts written and on display on MERT Worldwide website, that is the cure or the medicine required to help alleviate these real incidents. It comes down to providing quality training which is a combination of Performance Based, assessed training that utilises the following training techniques to empower crew to complete tasks safely:

Role Play

To read more about MERT coaching techniques I encourage you to read the previous post “Two Ships Collide”.

MERT Worldwide – Maritime Emergency Response Training


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