Costa Concordia Search Halted Again, Captain Suspended


Lifeboat drill onboard Costa Atlantica. // Photo by Susan J. Young

Yet again, Costa Concordia has shifted on its rocky perch near Giglio, Italy, causing authorities to call off the search  for the missing-- at least temporarily.
While there is little hope of finding anyone alive a week after the accident, experts say, the goal is to help give closure for the families. Thus, the rescuers will resume the search once again once the ship stabilizes.
Authorities are looking into the possibility of whether the ship could be anchored by chains to the rocks to prevent it from slipping off them.
Many families of the missing have traveled to the Italian island of Giglio to be closer to the situation. More than 20 people are still missing.
Thousands are safe after a chaotic evacuation from the ship a week ago. So far eleven people are confirmed to have died in the accident or its aftermath. 
A Rotterdam-based company, Smit Salvage, has been hired to begin removing more than a half million gallons of fuel from the ship, but that effort has not yet begun -- pending the conclusion of search efforts.
While the firm does not yet have a salvage contract with Carnival Corp., the group told the Washington Post this week about the possibilities of how the ship could either be refloated and towed for repairs, or cut up in pieces and hauled away on barges.
Refloating could prove extremely difficult given the Costa Concordia's size, but cutting up the ship in pieces on site fosters environmental concerns.

Carnival Corp. Orders Fleetwide Safety Review

Yesterday, Carnival Corporation, parent company of Costa Cruises and nine other cruise lines, announced it would conduct a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures across all of the company’s cruise brands.
In addition to Costa Cruises, the line-up includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, AIDA Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises, P&O Cruises (UK) and P&O Cruises (Australia).

Carnival Corp. said its own group as well as the industry as a whole have maintained an excellent safety record over the years. 

“However, this tragedy has called into question our company’s safety and emergency response procedures and practices,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO, Carnival Corp.

“While I have every confidence in the safety of our vessels and the professionalism of our crews, this review will evaluate all practices and procedures to make sure that this kind of accident doesn’t happen again," Arison stressed.

The review is being led by Captain James Hunn, a retired U.S. Navy Captain; he's currently Carnival Corp.'s senior vice president of maritime policy and compliance.
Following a 32-year career in the Navy, Hunn has held senior positions at Carnival Corp. for nearly a decade, focusing on corporate-wide efforts to establish maritime policy standards. He also oversees the company's health, environmental, safety, and security practices.
Hunn and senior health and safety executives from each of the lines will review all safety and emergency response policies and procedures, officer and crew training and evaluation, bridge management and company-wide response and support efforts.
Hunn will report to the board of directors' Health, Environment, Safety and Security Committee, and to Howard Frank, vice chairman and chief operations officer of Carnival Corp.
In addition, the committee is engaging outside industry-leading experts in the fields of emergency response organization, training and implementation to audit all emergency response and safety procedures and to conduct a thorough review of the Costa Concordia accident.
Frank said, “This company-wide initiative will identify lessons learned and best practices to further ensure the security and safety of all of our passengers and crew.”
Carnival Corp. also said it supports the call for a comprehensive evaluation of safety regulations by the International Maritime Organization (, which has been requested by the Cruise Lines International Association.

Strange Twist

On Thursday, the investigation took a strange twist when Italian prosecutors said they wanted to question Domnica Cemortan, 25, a young Moldovan woman who reportedly was on the ship's bridge and "shadowed" the captain before, during and after the accident.
The report comes from Italy's TG 5 TV. The woman apparently has worked as a cruise ship employee, but was onboard as a passenger. Yet, she did not appear on the ship's passenger manifest.
Now under house arrest in Naples, Captain Francesco Schettino reportedly told a judge that Cemortan was on the bridge at the time of the accident enjoying the views, according to the Italian newspaper La Reppublica.
Cemortan herself talked to Moldovan media and her account varies from the captain's. She said she was in the dining room when the crash occurred, and only then was called to the bridge to translate for the Russian passengers.

Captain Suspended

Captain Schettino has been charged with manslaughter and other crimes. Yesterday, he was "suspended" by Costa and the line is attempting to distance itself from him in any legal proceedings.
Proscecutors are also investigating the ship's officer of the watch, Ciro Ambrosio, although no charges have been filed.

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