A newspaper in Italy is reporting that six and one-half years before the Costa Concordia disaster, another Costa cruise ship ruptured its hull during a "sail-by" maneuver off the coast of Capri.
Libero Quotidiano reports that in June 2005, the Costa Fortuna was sailing by the island of Capri off the western side of Italy. The Fortuna, owned by Carnival and operated by Costa Crociere (Costa), had 3,500 passengers and crew members aboard. According to the newspaper, the ship cruised into shallow water during what is called a "sail-by" or "salute" to entertain the quests. Just like the Concordia, the Fortuna's hull was ruptured by rocks in the shallow waters and the cruise ship began to take on water.
The Italian newspaper writes that the Master and officers of the Fortuna did not report the incident to the Italian Coast Guard or any maritime or port officials. The officers then ordered the use of pumps at maximum effort to keep the water from sinking the ship. The Fortuna was able to make it to the port of Palermo in Southern Italy. Once back in port, Costa had the hole repaired and then continued the cruise the following morning with all of the passengers.
The only thing reported by Costa was that there had been an abnormal rise in the temperature of an engine. After making this false report, Costa "buried" the incident.
The incident came to light as part of the investigation into Costa following the 2012 Costa Concordia disaster. One of the photographers who worked in 2005 on Fortuna reported the incident to the Master of Palermo. His story has been verified. Investigators said that there is "numerous and insurmountable" evidence to support the photographer's account. The incident was a "real critical situation," and it was only favorable weather conditions that avoided a disaster.
Another Italian newspaper, La Nazione, covered this story and has additional information. The reference to the 2005 incident is contained in a 700 page report about the Costa Concordia which focused on prior "sail bys." On page 619 of the report, there is a reference to the Costa Fortuna cruising 300 meters from the coast near Sorrento when it hit a shoal and began to take on water, "just before a greeting to the island of Capri." The impact caused a gash in the hull "deep and ten meters long." Passengers were disembarked from the ship in dry dock where the ship was repaired during the night by Fincantieri workers and set off on the morning of June 15 2005. The Master, Giuseppe Russo, did not report the incident, and the ship officers falsely stated that while cruising from Naples to Palermo there had been an unexpected rise of temperature.
La Nazione explains that there was never any indication of the incident to the maritime authorities until January 18 2012, when the wave of emotion caused by the sinking of Concordia and of the 32 victims, caused one of two Costa Fortuna photographers, Roberto Cappello, to come forward.
This story was first reported last year by the U.K. press. The Sun reported that Fortuna ship photographer Cappello was on board the ship when he felt and heard a "loud bang" during the "sail by." The ship then rolled from left to right. Cappello later photographed damage to the cruise ship’s keel and broken propeller blade. However, Costa demanded and confiscated his photographs. Costa later claimed that the ship had "struck a whale."
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April 15 2013 Update:
Costa sent a letter to the newspaper strongly denying the incident and threatening to sue.
According to La Nazione Grosetto, Costa categorically denies that the Fortuna was Involved in a collision in shallow water near Capri on June 13, 2005 which caused a leak in the hull, as reported by a photographer on board the ship. Costa states that after departure from the port of Naples, around 7:00 PM on June 13 2005, the Fortuna experienced only a "minor technical problem" to a propeller shaft which did not compromise safety or navigation. There was a short stop in the dock in Palermo, the next port, and repairs were successfully performed between 14 and 15 June 2005. On June 15 2005, the ship was permitted to leave the dock, with certificates issued by the certifying authority competent, and the cruise ship departed Palermo at 9.00 AM on its cruise itinerary.
Costa Cruises reserves all legal action against those who continue to spread news which is defamatory to the company's image.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Hanseaticus