The grounding of the vessel raises questions about the safety of these huge liners, whose success has led to excessively oversized ships. It begs the question of how to calmly evacuate several thousand passengers often within a very short time period and in difficult sea conditions. Ironically, this was not the case for the Costa Concordia – the cause of the accident was almost tragicomic – as the idea was to give a “sail-past salute” to the inhabitants of Giglio Island.
The accident gives us food for thought on the danger of routine habits, given that the ship was at the end of a cruise the crew knew by heart in the Western Mediterranean. Costa, an established Italian company of long-standing (although now flying the flag of the American “Carnival” cruise group) was a regular feature in the Mediterranean and the captain of the Costa Concordia, a modern ship commissioned in 2006, knew the area where the accident occurred perfectly well (perhaps too well).
The cost of the accident (whose total, including righting fees, greatly exceeded the initial value of the vessel) has made it the most expensive in navigation history. Thankfully, it did not lead to as many deaths (32 victims) as the transatlantic ocean liner shipwrecks of times gone by. However, it is worth remembering that the Costa Concordia was a few months off marking the centenary of the Titanic shipwreck (in which 1500 or so people died). What would the outcome be if a monster of the seas, such as the Oasis of the Seas (220,000 UMS, compared with the Costa Concordia’s 114,500), with 8800 passengers and crew on board were to sink to the bottom of the ocean?