The Canadian Autoworkers Union, which represents Canadian Coast Guard radio and traffic communications staff, is urging Canadians to sign an online petition against a government decision to cut service hours at 11 of 22 Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres, and close another by the end of 2012.
One of the stations affected by the service cuts, which began on February 1, is Prince Rupert Coast Guard radio.
CAW President Ken Lewenza held a news conference in Ottawa today which included CAW Local 2182 President Martin Grégoire and CAW Local 2182 Pacific Region Director Allan Hughes alongside NDP Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Fin Donnelly and Deputy Critic for Fisheries and Oceans Phillip Toone.
“This government has to wake up to the fact that it’s simply not worth putting Canadian lives at risk to save a few bucks,” Lewenza was quoted in a CAW news release.
“These marine communications officers are the eyes and ears of our coastal waters and play an integral part in rescue support efforts during times of crisis. Cutting these hours only creates conditions for failure.
“The federal government’s relentless push for cost savings under its national austerity program is proving reckless, especially when it directly interferes with the ability of workers to ensure the public is safe,” Lewenza said. “We cannot support these efforts and must speak out against them.”
According to the CAW, other stations affected by the service cuts are Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, and Comox, British Columbia; Sarnia, Ontario; Quebec City and Les Escoumins, Quebec; Saint John, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The CAW represents 350 marine communications and traffic services officers across Canada.
On February 1, the day the service cuts took effect, Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield issued his own news release, saying the union statements until that time were “misleading.”
“The safety of Mariners is our top priority and we would not implement any policies that would put lives at risk.
“As a result of a risk assessment and workload study, in which the CAW participated, the Coast Guard is reducing the number of overtime hours for employees at Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre to reflect the actual workload at any given time.
“While the union tries to portray this as shortsighted, the fact is that this approach has already been in use successfully in Victoria and Quebec for about 5 and 10 years respectively and the Coast Guard is simply now expanding this approach on a national level.
“There will be no jobs lost as a result of the implementation and mariners will continue to receive the same level of service they currently receive.
“Like any responsible organization, we must ensure that we use our resources wisely. Canadians do not want to be paying for unnecessary or unproductive overtime.”
The safety of Mariners is our top priority and we would not implement any policies that would put lives at risk.
As a result of a risk assessment and workload study, in which the CAW participated, the Coast Guard is reducing the number of overtime hours for employees at Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre to reflect the actual workload at any given time.
While the union tries to portray this as shortsighted, the fact is that this approach has already been in use successfully in Victoria and Quebec for about 5 and 10 years respectively and the Coast Guard is simply now expanding this approach on a national level.
There will be no jobs lost as a result of the implementation and mariners will continue to receive the same level of service they currently receive.
Like any responsible organization, we must ensure that we use our resources wisely. Canadians do not want to be paying for unnecessary or unproductive overtime.
The Coasta Cruise line Sunday issued a statement about the sinking of the liner Costa Concordia, which ran around off the island Giglio, near Tuscany, Italy on Friday. There were 4,200 passengers and crew on board when the ship hit a rock or reef, was beached and later sank on its side. Five bodies have been recovered, three people have been rescued from the hulk and 17 people are still listed as missing.
The statement emphasizes the lines safety record, training and safety precautions, then implicates the captain, Francesco Schettino, with “significant human errors.” It says Schettino had first joined the company in 2002 as a safety officer.
An earlier statement, issued Saturday, said the ship follows the same route “52 times a year.”
Sunday statement 2015 hrs Central European Time
We at Costa Cruises are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected and offer the determined victims’ families her heartfelt condolences.
Over the past 48 hours, more than 1,100 Costa employees have been working tirelessly in the wake of this terrible event. We are working closely with the authorities to support ongoing search and rescue operations, and are focusing on ensuring that all guests and crewmembers return home safely.
Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts. We have engaged the services of a worldwide leader specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship. It should be noted that the Prosecutor in charge has seized the ship and the DVR– so called “black box” containing all navigation data and the vessel can be accessed by Costa only with permission from the authorities.
We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia. While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s Master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences. The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the Captain’s judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures. We are aware that the lead Prosecutor has levelled serious accusations against the ship’s Captain, who joined Costa Crociere in 2002 as a Safety Officer and was appointed Captain in 2006, after acting as Staff Captain as well. As all Costa Masters, he has been constantly trained passing all tests. In light of these accusations and the continuing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.
As we are learning more about the event itself and the evacuation, however, it is becoming clear that the crew of the Costa Concordia acted bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a very challenging situation. We are very grateful for all they have done.
Costa is committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again. Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and crew and we comply with all safety regulations. (See background on Costa safety below).
Background on Costa’s commitment to safety
Costa complies very strictly with all safety regulations and our personnel are committed, first and foremost, to guest safety and security.
All crew members hold a BST (Basic Safety Training) certificate and are trained and prepared to emergency management and to assist passengers abandoning the ship with numerous drills. Roles, responsibilities and duties are clearly assigned to all crew members. Every two weeks all crewmembers perform a ship evacuation simulation. A lifeboat and evacuation drill for all guests is conducted within 24 hours of embarking, as required by law. Costa has a computerised system which ensures all passengers undergo this drill.
The skills of Costa crew are periodically tested by Coastguard authorities and an independent classification organization as per SMS (Safety Management Systems) requirements.
There are lifeboats and jackets on board in excess of the number required for all passengers and crew. Lifeboats are equipped with food and water supplies, first aid kits and communication and signalling equipment. All life-saving appliances are aligned to international standards and are subject to close, regular inspection by shipboard personnel and certification authorities. All Costa ships are certified by RINA and have been built to the highest standards and technologies.
“I want to express our deep sorrow for this terrible tragedy that devastates us” – said Gianni Onorato President Costa Crociere – “I am here only now because, as you will understand, I have been from the down until now on the Isola del Giglio to be close to the rescue operations.
First at all, I would like to thank all the authorities, law enforcement and volunteers who made all efforts to help and assist our Guests involved in this terrible event.”
We are not at this time able to provide an answer to all the questions, because the competent authority are trying with our cooperative efforts to understand the reasons for this incident.
On the basis of the first evidences, still preliminary the ship Costa Concordia under the command of the Master Francesco Schettino was regularly sailing from Civitavecchia to Savona, when suddenly the ship stroked a rock.
The Master who was on the bridge at that time, understood the severity of the situation immediately performed a maneuver aimed to secure Guests and crew, and started the security procedures in order to prepare for an eventual ship evacuation.
Unfortunately, this operation was complicated as result of a sudden tilt of the ship that has made difficult the disembarkation.
Thanks to the commitment of all forces coordinated by the Coast Guard, from that moment on, rescue operations have been further strengthened.
From the first time the company mobilized all its resources ashore to put in to assist our guests and crew members and prevent possible environmental impacts.
The Costa Concordia accident happened tonight it’s a tragedy that deeply shocked our company.
Our first thought goes to the victims and we would like to express our deepest condolences to their families and friends.
We’re close to the people who have been injured and we’re following their progress.
All our efforts are now concentrated in assisting the guests and the crew who were on board, to bring them home as soon as possible.
The Costa Cruises customer service has already started contacting by phone all the guests who were supposed to board today in Savona and starting from tomorrow in the scheduled ports.
At the moment no changes have been planned to the schedule of the other Costa Cruises ships.
People looking for assistance can contact the call centre number 08453510552.
All the Costa Cruises people would like to thank from the deepest of their hearts the Guardia Costiera, the authorities and the citizens of the Giglio Island and of Porto Santo Stefano who helped and assisted the guests and the crew.
They also thank the doctors who are assisting the injured and anyone in need of assistance.
The Company is cooperating with the Authorities that are investigating on the accident.
It is a tragedy that deeply affects our company. Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends. In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard in order to have them going back home as soon as possible. The emergency procedures started promptly to evacuate the ship. The slope, gradually taken over by the ship, made the evacuation extremely difficult. We would like to express our profound gratitude to the Coast Guard and all the forces co-ordinated by the Coast Guard, including the authorities and citizens of the island “Isola del Giglio”, who have been involved in the rescue and assistance to guests and crew members. The company will fully co-operate with the relevant Authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened.
Costa Cruises confirms the evacuation of about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members on board of the Costa Concordia. An incident occured near the island ‘Isola del Giglio’ of the coast of Italy. The evacuation started promptly, but the position of the ship has worsened, making it more complicated to complete the last part of the evacuation. At this moment, the cause of the incident cannot yet be confirmed. The Company is currently working with the highest commitment to provide all the needed assistance. The Costa Concordia was sailing across the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia with scheduled calls to Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo. About 1.000 passengers of Italian nationality were onboard, as well as more of 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1.000 crew members.
The Guests had to embark today in Savona and in subsequent ports will be contacted directly by Costa Cruises.
How could one of the most modern cruise ships in the world, the Italian liner Costa Concordia, presumably with GPS, satellite navigation, modern charts both on paper and computers, triple redundant aircraft type “bridge navigation systems,” depth sounders and hopefully look outs, hit rocks near the island of Giglio off Italy in calm seas on a calm night in the Mediterranean?
Maritime authorities, passengers and mounting evidence pointed Sunday toward the captain of a cruise liner that ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan coast, amid accusations that he abandoned ship before everyone was safely evacuated and was showing off when he steered the vessel far too close to shore.
(Media reports are different. Some say rock, since there is clearly a huge rock lodged in the ship’s upturned hull seen in news photos and media video, or a reef or a sandbar)
It’s a question being asked around the world at the moment, as the rescue operation continues at this writing. It’s a question being asked up and down the coast of British Columbia, not only because similar cruise ships ply the Inside Passage but because of the debate over the possibility of bitumen-carrying supertankers on the coast.
There’s another question you’re already hearing on when the television networks interview experienced mariners and naval architects. The Mediterranean off the west coast of Italy isn’t exactly uncharted waters, that region has been sailed for “thousands of years.”
The headline in Sunday’s UK Independent, “We hit a rock, it shouldn’t have been there,” brings to mind Odysseus. When Odysseus left the bed of Circe, the seer, one of the things she warned him to beware of were the “wandering rocks.” Most scholars believe that the wandering rocks were far to the south of the accident scene. The British sailor Ernle Bradford, who sailed what he thought to be the route of Odysseus in the early 1960s, and published his story in Ulysses Found, believed the Wandering Rocks were in the Straits of Messina, and might have referred to eruptions from the volcano Stromboli.
The cause of the accident is under investigation by the Italian police, who are holding the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, for questioning. The sinking will also be investigated by Italian and presumably other maritime authorities (since there were many nationalities, including Canadians, on board).
It is highly unlikely that there were “wandering rocks” in the path of the Costa Concordia. That’s not the point, the point is that Odyssey reflects the fact the mariners from Mycenean Greece and even earlier the Minoans and Phoenicians were sailing the waters where the Costa Concordia grounded by at least 1250 BCE, the usually accepted date of the Trojan War. Local mariners and fishers probably sailed that area for a couple of thousand years before the first traders ventured into the Mediterranean. If we take 1250 BCE as a starting date for trading ships in that region, that is 3,262 years ago.
The island of Sardinia, not far from the sinking site was, according to scholars, (including the distinguished Robin Lane Fox in Travelling Heroes Greeks and Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer), the cross roads of the Mediterranean from about 1100 BCE to about 700 BCE. That’s because with the limited capacity of the shore hugging galleys and freighters of the era, Sardinia was a perfect meeting and trading point for the Celts to the north, the Iberians to the West, the Etruscans and others in Italy, the Carthaginians and west African people to the south and the great traders of that age, the Greeks and the Phoenicians from the east.
Simple conclusion, if we take the date from 1100 BCE, the sea around Giglio has been charted for 3,112 years. Those scholars of the sea believe that the warnings Circe gave Odysseus were adapted by Homer from real sailing instructions probably passed down as oral poems in age, between the collapse of Mycenean culture and the rise of classical Greece, when only a tiny handful of Phoenicians could read or write.
One has to wonder if the bridge crew of the Costa Concordia had just had a Roman chart, whether or not the cruise ship could have avoided the rocks/sandbar/reef.
So what went wrong and what does that mean for the controversial plan to have hundreds of both bitumen and LNG laden tankers going up and down the British Columbia coast?
Britain’s Daily Telegraph is already asking what went wrong, in Cruise disaster: Perfect storm of events caused Costa Concordia crash. The Telegraph is pointing out something critical to the plans by Enbridge for a highly computerized navigation system for Douglas Channel, the Inside Passage and the British Columbia coast: that many of today’s bridge officers don’t have the skills that Capt. George Vancouver would have demanded even from the youngest teenaged midshipman when he first charted the west coast for the Royal Navy.
The captain was reported to have said he hit a rock that was not marked on his charts. But that failed to explain adequately the scale of the disaster, which experts said should be unthinkable….
The Concordia, whose officers were all Italian, will also have operated Bridge Team Management, a system adopted from the aviation industry whereby each operation is double and triple-checked by several members of the crew….
Modern ships are required to carry voyage data recorders which store detailed information about the vessel’s speed, position, heading, radar and communications…
The first thing investigators will have to determine is whether the vessel should even have been where it was.
A source close to the investigation told a leading Italian newspaper that the boat was on the wrong course — possibly due to human error — and was sailing too close to Giglio.
The ship should have passed to the west of the island, rather than the east, according to this theory.
Yesterday fishermen on Giglio and in Porto Santo Stefano said it was very unusual for such a large ship to attempt a passage to the east of the island….
Douglas Ward, a cruise ship expert and author of Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships, said: “Crew don’t have as much training as in the past.
“Ships today are built with completely enclosed navigation bridges and the navigators don’t even have to learn how to use a sextant, whereas marine officers in the past always had to.
“The advance in hi-tech navigation systems is so good that we have come to rely on them. But even these can fail — look at car satnavs.”
So if the Enbridge Northern Gateway project is approved, and even if Enbridge implements all the navigation improvements it says it will, it all comes down to the competence of a bridge crew. Perhaps a GPS could tell them to turn to port instead of starboard (as GPS units in cars sometimes do) and there could be tanker hitting Gill Island, just where the Queen of the North sank, even if it is tied to an escort tug.
What makes the sinking of the Costa Concordia even more frightening is the negligence of Stephen Harper and his cabinet cronies who are gutting Canadian Coast Guard and DFO resources on both the West and East Coasts. It will be years before those super tankers might start coming up Douglas Channel. There was lots of rescue capability on the coast of Italy from the Italian coast guard and local boats. What about the giant cruise ships, a key aspect of the British Columbia economy? What if one of those ships got in trouble? The captain of the Costa Concordia was able to beach the ship right by the sea wall at the port of Giglio. On the rocky coast of BC, that giant cruise ship could go to the bottom in minutes just as the Queen of the North did, with little or no immediate hope of rescue.
British Columbians by a 48-32 percentage margin support the $5.5-billion Northern Gateway pipeline project linking the Alberta oilsands to the West Coast, according to a new poll.The Ipsos-Reid survey, commissioned by project proponent Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, counters the perception that an overwhelming majority of British Columbians are against the controversial megaproject, according to Enbridge spokesman Paul Stanway.
Despite the promise of thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in contract opportunities, the business community in northern B.C. has had a low-key reaction to the controversial pipeline project.
The Coast Guard is cutting back on the staff on watch at the Prince Rupert Coast Guard station as of this month, but only when someone can’t make their shift, and only if the supervisor thinks they can manage without. In order to save money the Federal Government is ordering DFO to claw back on the amount of overtime being paid to Coast Guard employees. There are usually three people manning communications equipment at all times in the Coast Guards marine communications and traffic services station in Seal Cove.
Journal Star (Lincoln Nebraska) Mike Klink: Keystone XL pipeline not safe
..as a civil engineer and an inspector for TransCanada during the construction of the first Keystone pipeline, I’ve had an uncomfortable front-row seat to the disaster that Keystone XL could bring about all along its pathway.