International Cruise Ship Regulations May Be Revised

Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, said regulations on the safety of large passenger ships may be re-examined in light of the investigation of the deaths from the grounding of the cruise ship Costa Concordia.

The deaths that resulted from the grounding of the cruise liner Costa Concordia last week may result in revised safety regulations applying to such ships. Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, said Jan. 16 at the opening of a meeting of IMO's Sub-Committee on Stability, Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety that regulations on the safety of large passenger ships may be re-examined in light of the investigation of the deaths from the grounding. Six deaths were confirmed as of Jan. 16 from among about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members who were aboard when it apparently struck a reef off the coast of Giglio island, Italy, opening a huge gash in the hull. The ship then took on water and heeled sharply to starboard, preventing most of its lifeboats from being launched.

Seikmizu noted this is the centennial year of the Titantic disaster, which spawned the first international safety of life at sea –- SOLAS -– convention. "I wish to express my sincere condolences and sympathy on behalf of IMO to the families of those who have lost their lives the cruise ship Costa Concordia," he said. "Further, I appreciate the Italian Coast Guard for their rescue operations over the night of the accident and the continued efforts deploying patrol boats, tugs, helicopters, as well as diver teams, which have resulted in the highest number of people rescued in the history of the Italian Coast Guard.

"Causes of this accident are still not yet established. We must wait for the casualty investigation and should not prejudge or speculate at this stage. I would like to urge the Flag State administration 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 added. "IMO must not take this accident lightly. We should seriously consider the lessons to be learnt and, if necessary, re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships in the light of the findings of the casualty investigation. In the centenary year of the Titanic, we have once again been reminded of the risks involved in maritime activities."

IMO is the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and preventing marine pollution.

Carnival Corporation & plc, which is the parent company of Costa Cruises, said Jan. 16 it has insurance coverage for damage to the Costa Concordia with a deductible of approximately $30 million, along with insurance for third-party personal injury liability to an additional deductible of approximately $10 million for this incident. The company said it self-insures for loss of use of the ship.

In a statement, Micky Arison, chairman and CEO, said, "At this time, our priority is the safety of our passengers and crew. We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and our hearts go out to everyone affected by the grounding of the Costa Concordia and especially to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers."

Carnival's statement said a damage assessment of the vessel is being undertaken to determine how long it will be out of service, adding that it is expected to be out of service at least for the remainder of the company's current fiscal year, which ends Nov. 30. The impact on 2012 earnings is expected to be $85 million to $95 million, or 11 to 12 cents per share.

The ship was making a seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia, Italy, with intended stops in Savona, Italy; Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; and ultimately Palermo, Italy.

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