Its been an interesting two days watching the live streaming video of the "parbuckling" project which raised the stricken Costa Concordia out of the sea. The submerged, starboard side of the cruise ship, which has been underwater and resting on the seabed, is now strangely warped and disfigured.

It took some 19 hours to right the cruise ship. Much of the activity took place late at night.  Some say that it was like watching paint dry, although I found it interesting.

It’s a rather amazing thought that although Costa (Carnival) offered less than $15,000 per passenger in compensation for the harrowing near-death experience of escaping from a sinking ship and leaving all of your possessions begind, the cruise line and its underwriters committed over $800,000,000 (and counting) to tilt the vessel upright.     

For those of you who didn’t have the time or inclination to watch the raising of a ship over three football fields long and over 114,000 gross tons, below is a time-lapse video of the event. You can watch the Concordia being raised from the water in 30 seconds.

  

El reflote del Concordia, en un minuto

Ver vídeoEl reflote del Concordia, en un minuto

Twenty months after the Costa Concordia crashed into the rocks and capsized off the coast of Giglio in a maritime disaster that killed 32 people and terrorized thousands others, the cruise ship emerged from the Mediterranean this morning following a spectacular "parbuckling" salvage effort costing over $800 million. 

With many millions watching via live streaming video, the stricken cruise ship was slowly pulled upright in the dark morning hours today.

As the sun rose over Giglio, you could see that the vessel was upright. It now needs to be re-floated and secured for its final voyage next year when it will be towed away to be cut into scrap metal. 

"The rotation has finished its course, we are at zero degrees, the ship is resting on the platforms," said Italy’s civil protection chief, Franco Gabrielli, at a 4 a.m. news conference on Giglio island, where he was applauded and cheered by residents.

There is no word yet whether the bodies of cruise passenger, Maria Trecarichi, and Costa crew member, Russel Rebello, have been located in the ship.

Photo Credit: Giglio News

Giglio costa Concordia Upright

Costa Concordia Parbuckling GiglioIts been over 20 months since the Costa Concordia sailed into the rocks near the little port of Giglio. Thousands of passengers and crew panicked. 32 souls perished. 2 bodies of the dead remain in the sea.

Here is my first blog about the disaster. Little did I know just how bad the situation really was that night.

Its been over 20 months since the eyesore of the capsized Concordia lay on her side at the port like a beached whale. 

Its been a crime scene ever since. Captain Schettino is standing trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. The Costa organization and parent Carnival Corporation largely escaped liability, with all of the blame carefully heaped on the unpopular "Captain Coward."

I wonder where Captain Schettino is this morning?  What is he thinking?  

What are the families of the dead and missing feeling at these early morning hours?

I bet Carnival cruise tycoon, Micky Arison, is sleeping like a baby, without a care in the world. 

It looks like a beautiful morning in Giglio.

It’s time to right the cursed ship and prepare to take her from her watery grave.

The "parbuckling" salvage efforts finally begins. 

 Giglio Costa Concordia

You can watch the Giglio News web cam here.

You can watch the Reuters live streaming web cam here.

Image Credit: Giglio News

Monday morning the much talked about "parbuckling" project will finally start to try and raise the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship from the port of Giglio.

I have clicked on the web cams at the port of Giglio hundreds of times since January of 2012 to see what has been happening with the Concordia at the little port.

There are high hopes that this extravagant and expensive project will finally rid Giglio of this Costa eyesore.  While there will be great excitement surrounding the event, the cruise ship  is still considered a crime scene. Thirty-two people died in the accident. Captain Schettino remains on trial for manslaughter, causing the wreck and abandoning ship. 

There are still two Concordia victims whose bodies have not been recovered and may be trapped on the ship somewhere.      

The removal of the shipwreck will in many ways be the removal of a watery graveyard.  It should be a serious and somber event. 

Costa Concordia Giglio Italy

Image Credit: Giglio News

A maritime disaster is unfolding in the Philippines after the passenger ferry MV Thomas Aquinas sank after colliding with a large cargo ship, the MV Sulpicio Express, near the port of Cebu. 

The ferry was carrying 752 passengers, including children and infants, and 118 crew members. 

More than 200 people are missing after passengers were forced to jump into the water. Some managed to get into life rafts but many others were trapped into the ferry as it sank. Divers are combing through the sunken ferry, which rests at around 100 feet underwater, to retrieve the bodies of the missing. 629 people were rescued.

BBC News reports that maritime accidents are common in the Philippine waters because of badly maintained passenger vessels and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

The world’s worst maritime disaster occurred in the Philippines in December 1987 when more than 4,000 people died after the Dona Paz ferry collided with a tanker and sank.

Photo Credit: Reuters (top) / Reuters (bottom)

Sulpicio Express - Thomas Aquinas Collision

Thomas Aquinas - Sulpicio Express

Long before Captain Schettino smashed the Costa Concordia into the rocks off of the coast of Giglio, another captain of a passenger cruise ship slammed his vessel into the rock and sank the ship.

Six years ago, the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck a reef and eventually sank off the coast of Santoniri. Two French cruise passengers drown. 

In both cases, the captain’s poor navigational skills, recklessness and negligence in efficiently evacuating the cruise ship killed passengers.

Sea Diamond SinkingAfter a long legal proceeding, a  three judge panel in Piraeus sentenced the ship’s captain to 12 years and two months in jail and sanctioned him €8,000 fine.  The judges sentenced an employee of DNV (Det Norske Veritas), which deemed the cruise ship seaworthy, to eight years.

The cruise ship, owned by Louis Hellenic Cruises, sank on April 6 2007 after ramming  a reef near the Aegean island of Santorini with 1,195 passengers and 391 crew on board.

A French man, Jean Christophe Allain (age 45) and his daughter Maud (age 16), died. 

According to a Greek newspaper, the judges also sentenced the navigation officer (two years and 10 months), chief engineer (two years and four months), company’s legal representative (two years), an inspector/auditor (15 months) and a security officer (six months and a €600 fine).

The newspaper states that it is unlikely that anyone will serve actual jail time.

The judges acquitted the ship’s first engineer officer, chief officer, chief steward and the cabin manager. 

After the verdict, Louis Hellenic vowed to appeal the decisions. 

The big news this weekend in the on-again off-again Costa Concordia trial was the announcement that five Costa employees were sentenced to jail time for manslaughter in the death of 32 Concordia cruise passengers and crew members.

But you will see no photographs of the five men in court in handcuffs because there will be no actual jail time to be served, according to most news accounts. They will be serving suspended sentences. There appears to be no fines levied against the men in question:

Helmsman Jacob Rusli Bin:

Captain Schettino Costa ConcordaHotel Director Manrico Giampedroni:

Bridge Officer Ciro Ambrosio:

Crisis Coordinator Roberto Ferrarini; and 

Bridge Officer Silvia Coronica.

The bridge officers and the helmsman were sentenced to between 20 and 23 months in prison, while the hotel director received a two-year sentence, The crisis coordinator received a 34-month sentence.

Lawyers for the victims expressed their disgust with the sentences:

"The plea bargains are unacceptable, they shouldn’t have been proposed or accepted. These sentences are ridiculous in the face of 32 dead,’ said Gabriele dalle Luche in the Daily Mail, who represents a group of Russian passengers.

The BBC reports that Massimiliano Gabrielli, lawyer for the group Justice for Concordia, compared the "shameful" short length of the sentences to the seven years given to Emilio Fede, who was convicted of procuring prostitutes for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The plea bargains leave disgraced cruise ship captain Schettino as the sole defendant. 

Many have criticized the legal proceeding, saying that Costa itself should also be on trial.  The cruise line previously agreed to a fine of $1.3 million to avoid all criminal charges. 

Domnica Cemortan Costa ConcordiaAs soon as the trial began, it was interrupted by a national strike by Italian lawyers. The trial has been again delayed after the lawyers for Schettino requested an opportunity to conduct tests on the cruise ship which remains capsized in the port of Giglio.

The trial itself has been a bizarre spectacle.  It is taking place in a large theater which may be an appropriate venue for such drama.

Captain Schettino has appeared in his sporty blue coat and sunglasses.  His alleged paramour, Moldovan dancer and former Costa hostess Domnica Cemortan, made an appearance to support Schettino. She was wearing attire suitable to a cocktail party and disrespectful to the dead passengers and crew members, while posing for the cameras. Her appearance added to the scandalous nature of the proceedings, given the fact that she is suing Costa for hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to newspapers, "for the damage to her reputation after it became known that Mr Schettino, who is married with young children, had wined and dined her aboard the Concordia." 

The soap opera is expected to resume in September.

 

Phorto Credits:

Schettino: The Independent

Ms.Cemortan: news.au

Costa Concordia Last September Carnival won its first battle arising out of the January 2012 Costa Concordia disaster when U.S. District Court judge Robin Rosenbaum held that the lawsuits against Carnival should be filed in Italy.

In that case, a thousand businesses on the island of Giglio where the Concordia cruise ship ran aground near the harbor tried to sue Carnival in Florida because it is the parent company for Costa which is based in Genoa, Italy.

Yesterday another District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit by cruise passengers against Carnival. Federal Judge William Dimitrouleas held that the passengers’ lawsuit should be filed in Italy.  

The ruling was expected from my point of view. The case involves an Italian cruise ship, operated by a company based in Italy, flying an Italian flag, captained by an Italian officer, which crashed in Italian waters and is being investigated by the Italian authorities.  

The case was filed on behalf of Massachusetts residents Adrian, Amanda and Brian Warrick and their parents, Wilhelmina and Ceilito Warrick. 

You can read other articles about this issue here.

The L.A. Times has an interesting article today about whether the new cruise safety proposals marketed to the public after the Concordia disaster are really making a difference.

Entitled Questions Linger One Year After the Costa Concordia Disaster, the article by L.A. Times reporter Mary Forgione asks some tough questions whether the cruise industry has taken the steps necessary to make cruising safer for the public.

Interviewed in the article are two cruise ship survivors who give the issue some true perspective. Weighing in for the cruise industry is former travel agent Christine Duffy, who is now head of the cruise Cruise Ship Safetytrade organization Cruise Line International Association, as well as cruise fan Carolyn Spencer Brown, who is the editor of the pro-cruise website and Expedia & Trip Advisor owned Cruise Critic.  

Ms. Forione interviewed me as the critic of the cruise industry, I suppose.

My take is that the proposals are rather modest. Plus there is no regulatory agency of any type which can actually enforce the proposals. The proposals are mostly happy-talk to try and convince the public that it’s safe keep buying cruises. 

There are more pressing cruise safety issues to worry about that no one is talking about.

The risk of terrorism against a cruise ship is frightening, Consider this. But no one is discussing the inadequate, skeleton crews of security guards on cruise ships.

Nor is anyone focusing on the greatest risk to your family if you cruise. Sexual assault of children, girls and women. Just last week two officers aboard a Princess cruise ship were arrested on allegations that they raped a woman on the Grand Princess. No one is talking about that either. 

King of the Nile Cruise Ship Sinking News sources in the Middle East are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 112 Egyptian passengers sank in the Nile River yesterday evening after striking large rocks. The Al-Ahram’s news website report that the incident took place near the Egyptian cities of Kom Ombo and Aswan.

Reports are that all passengers safely disembarked the sinking vessel which is called the King of the Nile.

In November of last year, we reported on another cruise ship which caught on fire on the Nile.  77 tourists were aboard but got off safely.

You can read the article Fire Breaks Out During Cruise Down the Nile

Please contact us if you have any information or photos of this latest incident.

 

Photo credit: Ahram Arabic News Website