Cruise Industry to Add Lifejackets, Limit Bridge Access

Three new safety policies to be implemented immediately throughout the industry were announced April 24 by the European Cruise Council and the Cruise Lines International Association.

Manfredi Lefebvre, chairman of the European Cruise Council and a member of the Cruise Lines International Association executive committee, announced three new safety policies April 24 that the worldwide cruise industry will implement immediately. One concerns route planning, another access to a ship's bridge, and the third how many lifejackets a ship will carry.

Lefebvre announced them during a European Commission-organized Passenger Ship Safety event in Brussels, saying they are the third step taken following the industry's Operational Safety Review, which will be strengthened by appointing four independent experts who will be consulted on future proposals: Stephen Meyer, Willem de Ruiter, Mark Rosenker (a former NTSB chairman), and Dr. Jack Spencer.

The policies will be reported to the International Maritime Organization's Maritime Safety Committee for consideration at a meeting in May 2012:

  • Passage Planning. Each passage plan is to be thoroughly briefed to all bridge team members well in advance of its implementation and is to be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the master.
  • Personnel Access to the Bridge. To minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions on the bridge, bridge access is to be limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required.
  • Lifejackets. Beyond the legal requirement for a lifejacket for each person onboard, this policy calls for carrying enough additional adult lifejackets on each cruise ship so that they at least equal the total number of persons berthed within the ship's most populated main vertical fire zone. "This ensures that the number of lifejackets carried are far in excess of the number of persons actually onboard the ship," according to ECC.

Three days earlier, Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Titan Salvage was awarded the contract for salvaging the Costa Concordia cruise ship wreck from its current position, aground on the coastline of Italian island Giglio, Costa Crociere and the Costa Concordia Emergency Commissioner's Office announced. Titan Salvage, one of six bidders for the work, will do the work in partnership with the Italian firm Micoperi, starting in early May. The job, subject to final approval from the Italian authorities, is expected to take about 12 months.

Titan Salvage, owned by the Crowley Group, is a world leader in maritime salvage. Micoperi is an Italian marine contractor specializing in underwater construction and engineering.

"We are very pleased to announce another important step toward salvaging the wreck from Giglio Island," said Costa Crociere S.p.A. Chairman & CEO Pier Luigi Foschi. "As was the case with the removal of the fuel, we have sought to identify the best solution to safeguard the island and its marine environment and to protect its tourism. We would like also to thank Smit Salvage and Tito Neri for succeeding in defueling and caretaking operations."

The company's announcement said environmental protection will be a top priority throughout the operation. "Once the main work is complete, the sea bottom will be cleaned and marine flora replanted," its news release stated.

"This is going to be a monster of engineering," Gage Parrot, son of the man who founded Titan Salvage in 1980, told an Orlando Sentinel reporter. "I don't think anyone has ever tried to do anything more complicated than this."

Once the ship is floated, it will be towed to an Italian port "and dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Italian authorities," it said. The six bidders submitted their proposals by the March 3 deadline and "were of a very high standard, but the evaluation team decided that the Titan Salvage/Micoperi proposal best fulfilled the main objectives set out in the tender specifications: removal of the wreck in one piece, minimal risk, minimal environmental impact, protection of Giglio's economy and tourism industry, and maximum safety of the work," Costa said.

Fuel removal was completed successfully March 24.

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