German Investigators Withdraw From Two Investigations – Italy Not Objective

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Jan 202016

Germany’s Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation, BSU, has withdrawn from two serious accident investigations involving Italian authorities on the grounds that the legal position in Italy does not permit an objective technical accident investigation because of its absolute prioritization of criminal proceedings. Italian authorities have made it impossible for a thorough investigation to be carried out. It calls into questions the ability of Italian authorities to conduct an IMO-compliant investigation and its competence in carrying out safety investigations.

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Feb 272012

Costa Concordia : IMO is watching

Preliminary results of the Italian administration’s investigation into the Cost Concordia are expected to be present at the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, which meets for its 90th session from 16-25 May this year.

Italian authorities allowed the IMO to be represented as an observer on the body overseeing the casualty investigation in order to monitor progress closely and remain abreast of emerging issues, as they arise.

Italy provides for one central commission, the Marine Casualty Investigation Central Board which is under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and a number of local commissions dealing with marine casualty investigation. The members of the local commissions are appointed by the harbour masters which, as members of the Coast Guard, are part of the maritime administration; the commission members are partly deployed by the maritime administration through the Coast Guard and partly by experts not necessarily of administrational background.

Italy has no full-time maritime casualty investors but does have four employees who have other duties as well as ad hoc investigators who can be appointed from outside.

Three days after the Costa Concordia tragedy ​IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu urged Italian authorities to “carry out the casualty investigation covering all aspects of this accident and provide the findings to the IMO under the provisions of SOLAS as soon as possible.”

He has included an additional item on “Passenger Ship Safety” on the agenda of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, which meets for its 90th session from 16-25 May this year. This will provide an opportunity for IMO members in the MSC to consider any issues arising. Sekimizu has also urged all IMO Member States to ensure that their current national safety regulations and procedures are being implemented fully and effectively, including those aiming at ensuring safe operations on board.

Sekimizu also opened a channel of communication with passenger ship operators through the Cruise Lines International Association,CLIA, immediately following the Costa Concordia accident.

CLIA itself has launched a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review , the first outcome of which is a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory musters for embarking passengers prior to departure from port.  This new muster drill policy, voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members, exceeds current legal requirements, which mandate a muster of passengers occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.
Mre recommendations are expected to follow.


Jan 242012

Costa Concordia VDR "Broken"

Hopes were high that the Costa Concordia voyage data recorder, VDR, would resolve keys issues about the vessel’s grounding on 13 January, including communications between the master, Francesco Schettino, and the ship owner’s executives. However, the VDR had been faulty for at least two weeks, according to reports quoting Captain Schettino.

Understandably there have been comments about the ‘convenience’ of the faulty VDR but such circumstances are far from common and they are on the increase.

In March 2011, Gard issued an advisory on VDR problems, noting “”a number of cases where vessels have been unsuccessful in both saving and retrieving vital VDR information.

Failure to be able to produce VDR information may lead to counterparty allegations that might have been prevented and/or proceeded against in a less costly manner had it not been for the lack of VDR evidence”. Continue reading »