Tragedy off Tuscany

A message from the Secretary-General of BIMCO

It is difficult to think of a worse nightmare than the pictures of the 114,000 GT Costa Concordia lying on her side as the sun came up over the coast of Tuscany last Saturday morning. All our sympathy must go to those caught up in this tragedy. We can, however, be thankful that so many people managed to evacuate the steeply listing vessel and made it to the safety of dry land.

It is perhaps a terrible irony that this disaster has happened just at a time when the world was expecting to commemorate the centenary of the best known of all sea disasters, that of theTitanic in which 1,589 passengers and crew lost their lives. At least one of the objectives of this commemoration by the International Maritime Organization was to demonstrate the tremendous progress in maritime safety that has been registered during the hundred years since this notable casualty.

The reality, however, is that while there have indeed been huge advances in maritime safety, and the enormously expanded global marine transport system we depend upon today has never been safer, risk still remains. Just as technical and regulatory progress has been steadily made over the years, we have still seen the melancholy milestones of marine disasters demonstrating time and time again, that there still remains work to be done.

All lives lost at sea are tragic, but the loss of passengers who have been afloat for leisure has a special poignancy. It is still far too early to determine what circumstances might have led to this casualty, but we can in 2012 be reasonably sure that the best possible forensic information from Voyage Data Recordings and other sources will provide a precise chronology of the events. We can also be sure that the shipping industry and its regulators will learn from this tragedy and that progress will surely be made to ensure that such will not be repeated.

There will be much to learn, in terms of a whole range of different aspects that might have influenced the events. There will be lessons to learn about navigation, damage control, evacuation, life saving appliances, damaged stability. All will feed into international technical, operational and regulatory improvement and which must become a vehicle for the reassurance of the hundreds of thousands of cruise passengers who will continue to use this fast expanding leisure sector and enjoy their holidays afloat.

It is the International Maritime Organization which will, of course, take the lead in this important work. BIMCO, as always, will support this technical work wholeheartedly and endeavour to use its practical knowledge and those of its members, to make the sea a safer place. Meanwhile, our thoughts are with those who have been caught up in this sad event.

Torben C. Skaanild
Secretary General/CEO

[Link to message on Bimco website]



Image courtesy of Dipartimento dei Vigili del Fuoco


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