The mysteries surrounding the various stages of the Concordia disaster now entangle the top echelons of the Costa company, the Milan based daily Corriere della Sera says on its website.
Meanwhile, the ship has shited at least three times in the past few days towards deeper watyer, leading to suspension of efforts to find survivors or victims inside the vessel, media reports say.
"Executives were told there were problems on board fully 68 minutes before the order to abandon ship was given but Captain Francesco Schettino does not appear to have been urged to announce the emergency straight away. Was the underestimation of the problem caused by the failure of Captain Schettino to report the scale of what was actually going on? Or did Costa executives think they could avoid serious financial consequences and thus become the captain’s accomplices in precipitating the disaster? These are the questions that the Grosseto public prosecutor’s is now seeking to answer, bearing in mind a detail that has come to light in the past few hours. Passengers traumatised during a cruise, for example by disembarking in liferafts at night on an island, are entitled to compensation of €10,000 each under maritime procedures. There were about 3,000 passengers on board, which means that total compensation could have been as much as €30 million," Corriere della Sera says..
A number of circumstances are still hard to explain. The latest of these is the fact that on the bridge there was a 25-year-old Moldovan woman who does appear on any list. Was she the captain’s guest? Why is there no record of her presence? Was she working without a contract? Some witnesses have mentioned the woman, saying her name is Domnika. Public prosecutor Francesco Verusio has asked Carabinieri to find her since she appears in a photograph taken not long after the Concordia’s departure from Civitavecchia. Officers will have to discover why she was on board and where she was at the moment of impact. According to some witnesses, she was in a room next to the control room. Did she see or hear anything that might throw light on what happened? Did she stay there even in the confusion that followed the collision with the reef? Captain Schettino undoubtedly realised that the situation was serious but the decisions he then took appear incomprehensible, reinforcing suspicions that he took them in agreement with the company and not on his own. Despite Costa’s chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi dissociating himself from Captain Schettino, they are marching to the same drum. Proof is there in the fact that the commander is still being guaranteed legal assistance, as Mr Foschi himself confirmed three days ago when he referred to “the human error committed by the commander”. On Friday evening, it was still possible to remedy the error but Costa’s executives gave no order for an immediate evacuation. This would have enabled all the passengers to reach safety because the liner remained upright on its axis for almost an hour. Using the lifeboats would have removed any risk.
Instead, 68 precious minutes were wasted, the time that elapsed between former commander Mario Palombo’s call at 9.50 pm to a Costa manager and 10.58 pm, when the seven emergency blasts rang out to tell passengers to abandon ship. So far, it has been established that Captain Schettino spoke on the phone three times to Roberto Ferrarini, the man in charge of Costa’s crisis unit. However, evidence gathered suggests that consultations in the critical period of time involved other company staff. In particular, there are thought to have been contacts with others on board the Concordia. Significantly, Carabinieri and financial police officers have been asked to verify the tasks assigned to officers and ratings because as things stand, some appear to have carried out operations incompatible with their role. The aim is clearly to reconstruct the chain of command and discover what “advice” was given to Schettino by Costa executives. Investigators also want to find out who took the captain’s place when he abandoned the ship. Only when all the checks have been completed will Mr Ferrarini and his safety-sector colleagues be asked to account for what turned out to be a deadly chain of events. It now seems that investigators are convinced that responsibility cannot laid solely at the commanding officer’s door, the report says..
This is an interview with Pier Luigi Foschi, Chairman of Costa Crociere, published o9n the website of the Milan based daily Corriere della Sera:
By one of our correspondents
ISOLA DEL GIGLIO (Grosseto) - How are you, chairman?
“I’m not being rhetorical when I say I’m going through the most distressing period in my life since my mother’s death"
Speaking in a low voice to hide his emotions, Costa Cruises number one Pier Luigi Foschi seems to have all the weight of a terrible week on his shoulders: at the cruise company there are bereavements to work through before financial penalties to pay.
A sense of remorse?
“You work together, following strict principles and laws. But then there’s the human factor. Like in certain comedy films starring Edoardo De Filippo, you carry on doing your best and then... some idiot appears on the scene.”
"... I mean the human factor.”
Precisely. The entire world is asking itself how on earth you could choose Schettino to be the master of one of your ships.
“There are procedures to follow. First second in command. Then a committee assesses promotion to first in command. The Harbour Office also has to give its endorsement."
Any suspicions over the captain‟s unreliability?
“He has always been regarded as extremely valid from a technical standpoint... but he may have the odd little character problem, although nothing has ever been reported formally."
The odd little problem?
“He was seen as being a little hard on his colleagues. He liked to be in the limelight."
1There are 68 minutes between when you were alerted about the accident and the start of evacuation operations. Did you put pressure on Schettino to hurry up or not?
“If it’s true, a delay of more than an hour is neither normal nor justifiable."
Schettino spoke by telephone with Ferrarini, the manager of your crisis unit. When?
“At 22.05. Twenty minutes after the accident if what I read in the newspapers is correct. Too long."
During that hour the ship was upright. You could have saved many lives.
“I don’t sleep at night over it. The ship wasn’t upright. But if it had been abandoned earlier, we wouldn’t have lost any human lives."
Ferrarini spoke to Schettino. Is it correct that he told him to “hurry up”?
“I don’t know. We know what the captain said to Ferrarini because it was recorded on board. Ferrarini was listening. The code of shipping places absolute power in the hands of the captain and owners can’t intervene to change decisions."
But isn‟t it true that in the event of trauma during a voyage, such as for example an emergency disembarkation at night, compensation amounts to ten thousand euros per passenger? Which adds up to thirty million euros in the case of the Concordia. Isn‟t that perhaps enough to make the captain think twice about a hurried evacuation?
“We have no precedents of this type. I can assure you absolutely that no one was thinking in financial terms, which would have been in contravention of our code of ethics."
Did Schettino talk to anyone else in the company?
“I don’t exclude it."
And did you talk to anyone else on the ship?
“Yes. To Manrico Giampedroni, the purser and our hero, as well as to others, I believe."
When did you realise the full extent of the disaster?
“Only when the signal to evacuate the ship was given."
Were you deceived?
“We have filed suit as injured party. And we have sent a letter of suspension to Schettino in order to start the procedure."
But you retained his lawyer. Why?
“We’re dealing with human beings. But he’ll pay his legal fees."
At the end of the day, did Schettino lie to you or not?
“There’s an investigation underway. Personally I believe he hasn’t been honest with us. But I have no evidence to say whether or not he was lucid."
Had he been drinking or taking drugs?
“I think he was emotionally affected. He was watching his creature, the ship, sink before his eyes”.
What was the role of captain Palombo that night?
“He first spoke with Schettino. Then he called our general director Onorato. This was at 22.25. Onorato called me. I think that as a captain with many years’ service at Costa, Palombo felt as though he were in some way to blame."
Also because of the „sail-by salute‟?
“I think you mean what we call tourist navigation, in which you try to get close to the coast, but always in safe conditions.
“Look, in Today, the on board newspaper, we announced that that day we would be sailing past Giglio at a distance of five miles. It’s down in writing, I’ll send it to you by email if you like."
Of course. But you will have heard about different practices...
“I can’t exclude that ships have been sailed closer to land on the initiative of some captains without informing us. But I have never been aware of this taking place in an unsafe manner."
The lists of missing passengers are a puzzle... Were there unregistered passengers on board?
The famous young Moldavian woman who has talked about Schettino...
“She is a Russian-speaking hostess who worked for us for two months before disembarking. Then she came back on board on the 13th as a normally registered passenger. I have the documents to produce for the magistrates."
A friend of Schettino?
“I don’t know."
It has been said that the crew were unprepared.
“Our training courses are the best there are."
That night the crew were left alone. Schettino, the second in command and the officers were all in the lifeboat...
“The reasons why Schettino left the ship are still to be determined. Perhaps he really did trip and fall into the lifeboat. This is corroborated by other witnesses. But then of course he could have tried to climb back on board."
Costa Cruises, too much glamour and not enough safety?
“We don’t scrimp on signalling, safety and supervision systems. But we are, of course, in the business of making dreams come true."
Or nightmares in this case. Lessons to learn?
“To replicate on land the system of sounds and signals when a ship deviates from its route: we have to know this earlier. And to work with the government so that captains no longer have absolute power. A more collegiate form of management on the bridge would be better."
Are you afraid for the future of your company?
(Silence. Then a strangled sob). “Questions like this make me cry. Of course I’m afraid. But I’m counting on the loyalty of our customers. We will resist. We will get still better. And something like this won’t happen again. Ever again."
“We could have saved everyone after the collision.”
The code of shipping needs to be changed and warning signals replicated on land.”
“This is the worst period in my life after the death of my mother. I don’t sleep at night over it.”
More than two million passengers (2.15 to be precise) were carried by Costa Cruises in 2010, an 18% rise on the previous year.
The group has offices in 14 countries and its ships cruise to 14 destinations: from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, from the Norwegian fjords to the Red Sea, and from the Orient to transatlantic voyages.
Ships in the fleet
The company has 26 cruise ships with a total capacity of 65,300 guests. By the end of 2016 six more units will join the fleet, bringing the total to 32.
Over the last five years both turnover and profits have increased constantly. In 2010 the group reported turnover of 2.9 billion euros, a 12.1% increase on the previous year.
A poll by Cruise Critic, a leading cruising website targeted to consumers, that attracted 6,985 responses shows that almost one in five respondents never buy travel insurance.
“What they said: We received nearly 7,000 responses in four days, with just over half — 52 percent — claiming to “never travel without” insurance. About 27 percent responded that they “sometimes” purchase insurance and almost 19 percent said they “never buy it.” Less than 1 percent of responders didn’t know what travel insurance is,” Cruise Critic said.
“What it all means: An overwhelming number of respondents seem fully aware that travel insurance is a necessity most if not all of the time. This leads us to wonder if the 19 percent of respondents who don’t purchase insurance are aware of its benefits, but still choose not to take out a policy — or if they don’t fully realize how it can help,” the report said.
In the UK, cruise lines state that having a travel insurance is a condition of booking and insurance details must be provided to the line prior to sailing.
MSC Cruises has announced that PortMiami will be its exclusive homeport for its Caribbean sailings as of fall 2013 pending approval by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners later this month.
MSC is the fastest growing cruise line operating a fleet of eleven cruise ships with its newest ship, the MSC Divina, scheduled to launch May 2012 featuring its ship-within-a-ship concept – the MSC Yacht Club.
Beginning in fall 2013, MSC Cruises, which now homeports out of Port Everglades, will join the PortMiami cruise line-up. The initial term of the agreement is for three years.
"We are very excited to join the impressive roster of cruise lines operating out of PortMiami and look forward to sharing MSC Cruises' unique style of Mediterranean elegance, international cuisine and white-gloved service with more and more guests," said Richard E. Sasso, President and CEO of MSC Cruises (USA), Inc.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez applauded the new business agreement and extended a warm welcome to Miami's new upscale Mediterranean cruise brand.
"MSC brings another prestigious cruise brand to PortMiami's distinctive line-up of ships," Gimenez said. We are eager to welcome MSC to our Port.
PortMiami Director Bill Johnson said the new MSC service will strengthen Miami's offerings of luxury cruise brands. PortMiami, known worldwide as the Cruise Capital of the World, handled more than four million passengers in fiscal year 2011, more than any other cruise port in the world.