Cruise Lines Add More Post-Concordia Safety Procedures

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By Mark Johanson | November 17, 2012 3:32 AM EST

The Costa Concordia disaster in January left 32 people dead and raised questions about cruise ship safety. In its wake, however, the industry has announced several new safety initiatives, including three policies it adopted on Thursday.

The latest measures unveiled by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) address issues related to life jacket stowage on newly constructed ships, the synchronization of bridge operating procedures within commonly owned and operated fleets, and the securing of heavy objects aboard ships.

“These three new policies build upon the other seven wide-ranging policies that the global cruise industry has proactively adopted since January of this year and are helping improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is our industry’s top priority,” stated Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA.

The life jacket policy means that ships must have enough life jackets at each muster station or lifeboat embarkation point for them to be readily accessible to crewmembers for distribution. While cruise lines have always had more than enough onboard life jackets, a large percentage have often been stored in cabins, with fewer than one per person available at the actual muster stations.

The synchronization of bridge operating procedures policy is meant to enhance safety by achieving consistency across companies and brands. Many crew members who are part of a ship’s bridge team often rotate among different ships, and the CLIA and the ECC believe consistent procedures will help improve communications not only on each ship, but within each company, thus making things safer for everyone.

The final policy adopted Thursday ensures that heavy objects like pianos, televisions, treadmills and laundry equipment are secured either permanently, when not in use or during severe weather. The CLIA and the ECC believe that if not properly secured, these items have the potential to cause injury to both passengers and crew.

“The broad range of these three new policies is representative of the truly holistic nature of the operational safety review and demonstrates that safety improvements are being made wherever there is scope to do so,” stated Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, the ECC's Chairman. “Furthermore, these policies again highlight our Members’ commitment to harmonizing safety practices across the industry and are reflective of the cruise lines’ willingness to adopt and share best practice wherever possible.”

Advice on new safety procedures under the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review comes from a panel of outside maritime and safety experts. The measures are then formally submitted to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The three policies announced Thursday will be reported to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee later this month for consideration at its next session in May 2013.

The CLIA launched the Review in January, and several new policies have been adopted over the past year. The first, announced in February, was in direct response to the Costa Concordia incident, where passengers did not receive a pre-departure safety drill. Now, that is mandatory.

Other changes put forth include new requirements for consistency and transparency in marine casualty data, the recording of passenger nationality, and new crew training for the loading of lifeboats and policies regarding necessary common elements of muster and emergency instructions. Additional policies and practices developed by the Review are expected to be announced on an ongoing basis.

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