THE CHAIN LOCKER

Most of the initial flurry of reports is over with. Of course there's a very large shoe to drop whenever the final investigation is published - but that may be years from now. For the moment, here's a good wrap-up of news reports and revelations, gathered together on one site:


http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2011-2012/thewreckofthecostaconcordia/


Some of the video on that site may not play, depending on the country you're viewing from - licensing issues - but there's plenty of other material there, including a couple of things I hadn't seen yet.

One of the sadder - but I suppose predictable -  outcomes of this event has been that various groups have tried to make it a vehicle for their particular interest. There is fear in the maritime community, for instance, that this incident will be used to further criminalize seafarers. Criminalization of seafarers has been gaining steam worldwide - think of the Cosco Busan, among many other examples - and it's a complex legal issue. I won't attempt to weigh in on it here, as I really don't think I'm qualified to address it. 

But as a mariner, I note with concern the apparent slow erosion of the modern Master's autonomy - partly an artifact of today's tight, continuous communications with the office - and associate it with an erosion of respect for his authority, and a greater readiness to bring criminal charges against him. I read that Capt. Schettino of COSTA CONCORDIA had ten telephone conversations with his office during the hour+ between his striking the rock, and his calling abandon ship. I'm from the old school, but I think he might have acted sooner, and possibly saved some lives, had he been focused on dealing with the emergency instead of discussing it with his office. I don't know what all the calls were about, but if they took place they certainly constituted a distraction from his primary responsibility at that moment.

If you haven't seen it, have a look at COSTA CONCORDIA's AIS track (linked below in a previous post) - I know many companies track their vessels continuously now, even noting their speed and giving the Captain a call if they want it reduced. It's definitely a different world from the one in which I came up the ranks. And also a world in which, at least in some cases, an officer's sense of individual responsibility may be diluted by all the oversight. 


Maybe dealing with these challenges - for the mariner,and for his employer - is something we need to address in maritime education.

Weigh in, please - I want to hear your point of view! How does the COSTA CONCORDIA tragedy look from your vantage point?