Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Costly Italian Penis-Waving

Friday the 13th. A jinxed ship.
Italiano bravado.
These and other elements came together in the weekend capsizing of the Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia.
Superstitious sailors regarded the ship with suspicion: at its launch in 2006, the champagne bottle didn't break, and later it struck a wharf - two bad omens.
Until now, Costa Concordia and other Italian cruise ships had a habit (not official policy, but it often happened) of sailing very near to the Italian island of Giglo and displaying as many lights as possible, to entertain tourists and basically say hello to retired sailors there. This is why photographs show the ship alarmingly close to shore.
The captain claims the rocks which sliced a gaping hole in his ship were uncharted. He also suggests a power failure may have disabled the steerage, thus causing the collision. The ship was a mere 150m from shore - he insists he was twice as far out. But even 300m offshore is too near (officials say cruise liners normally sail about 2-3 nautical miles off Giglio) so had he not been so close, any risk would've been negligible. He does concede he was manoeuvring in
"touristic navigation" - implying a route that was a deviation from the norm and designed to entertain the tourists. He denies being found safe on shore some hours before the last of the passengers were off his capsized cruiser...
The ship's Italian owner, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, issued a statement late on Sunday saying there appeared to be "significant human error" on the part of the captain.
Survivors talk of no emergency drill taking place aboard; of liferafts not being lowered until the vessel's tilt made it impossible; of crew members saving themselves; of panic and fights over lifevests... shades of another famous sinking almost exactly 100 years ago!
The 951ft, 114,500 tonne vessel was the largest Italian-built cruise ship. Last weekend, it had 3216 passengers and 1013 crew members aboard. At least 16 are now dead...just for a bit of showing off?

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