WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of the deadly Costa Concordia cruise ship accident off the coast of Italy in January, the cruise industry is implementing new safety standards.
Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise non-profit organization representing 26 companies, announced Tuesday it is putting in place standards it says will “achieve concrete, practical and significant safety dividends in the shortest possible time.”
Officials say each ship will now be required to provide additional adult life jackets in excess of the legal requirements within a ship’s most-populated zone. This will ensure the number of life jackets carried by a cruise liner will exceed the actual number of passengers on board.
At least 30 people were killed and two others are missing and presumed dead after the Costa Concordia struck rocks and turned on its side January 13 off the Italian island of Giglio.
Some survivors said they returned to their rooms to get their life jackets a half hour after the accident and struggled to climb many levels in dim emergency lighting on the listing ship to reach lifeboats.
The industry also adopted a policy to “minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions” on the bridge. The change will limit access to the bridge “to those with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required.”
The captain of the Costa Concordia faces allegations of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck, abandoning ship and failing to report the accident. Some media outlets reported that Capt. Francesco Schettino had a woman with him on the bridge just before the accident.
Schettino has previously said managers of the cruise line instructed him to sail close to Giglio. He said the ship hit a rock not indicated on charts of the area.
A third safety policy adopted involves passage planning procedures, which is the complete description of a ship’s movement from departure to arrival. The new standard will change what was simply guidance for years and make it a mandatory minimum requirement. All bridge team members will be briefed on the voyage “well in advance of its implementation” by a designated officer and approved by the master.
“As the Concordia incident demonstrates, there is no such thing as perfect safety,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, chairman of the European Cruise Council. “We do strive for a perfect commitment to safety.”