Tracking data obtained by the definitive British shipping news service, Lloyd’s List (subscription required) and posted on both the Lloyd’s and the BBC News websites show that the cruise ship Costa Concordia was far off its assigned and programmed course before it ran aground near the island of Giglio.
The BBC reports:
Costa Cruises boss Pier Luigi Foschi accused Capt Francesco Schettino of sailing too close to a nearby island in order to show the ship to locals.
The captain blames the disaster on rocks which were not on his chart.
The data shows that the Costa Concordia, with 4200 passengers and crew on board veered close to the island of Giglio before hitting rocks just 150 metres from shore. The closest any cruise ship has ever been authorized to come close to the island is 500 metres.
The course of the Costa Concordia, heading straight for an island, looks similar to the course taken by the Queen of the North when it hit Gill Island. The difference, of course, is that while the Queen of the North failed to make a course correction at Wright Sound, the Costa Concordia was apparently deliberately taken off course.
Bloomberg News reported:
The captain of a Carnival Corp. cruise liner ordered the ship off its programmed route, an “error” that caused it to hit rocks off Italy’s coast in an accident that killed at least six people, the chairman of the cruise ship’s operator said.
The Costa Concordia’s route was set electronically before it left Civitavecchia near Rome…and the ship shouldn’t have been so close to the Giglio island where it struck rocks, ripping a hole through its hull, Costa Crociere Chairman Pier Luigi Foschi said at a press conference in Genoa…
“We can’t deny that there was a human error,” he said. “The route had been properly programmed in Civitavecchia. The fact that the ship strayed from that course can only be due to a maneuver that was not approved, not authorized nor communicated to Costa Crociere by the captain of the ship.”
According to Reuters and other news reports, the danger is a devastating oil spill from the capsized ship. Italy risks environmental disaster if ship fuel leaks.
As the Costa Concordia shifted dangerously on Monday, Italy’s environment minister raised the prospect of an environmental disaster if the 2,300 tonnes of fuel on the half-submerged cruise ship leaks.
The ship’s fuel tanks were full, having just left the port of Civitavecchia, north of Rome, for a week-long Mediterranean cruise, when it ran aground on Friday…
The area where the ship capsized, off the island of Giglio, is a natural maritime park noted for its pristine waters, varied marine life and coral. It is known as an excellent diving site.
“The environmental risk for the island of Giglio is very, very high,” Environment Minister Corrado Clini told reporters. “The aim is to prevent the fuel leaking out of the ship. We are working to avoid this. It is urgent and time is running out.”
Related Links: Costa Concordia
AFP Ocean giants’ ban needed on Italy coasts: environmentalists
Toronto Sun Human blunders seen at heart of Italy ship disaster
AP via Globe and Mail Rescue operations resume in Italian cruise ship disaster
Related Links: RMS Titanic There are now so many comparisons to the sinking of the Titanic, almost a century ago, with the sinking of the Costa Concordia, that Google News has now created tracking link for those stories.