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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Touring a Ghost Ship

I'm generally not someone who would encourage trespassing or other illegal behavior, but I could not resist watching the video footage an "urban explorer"  captured aboard the salvaged wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which is currently being stripped of its fittings in Genoa in preparation for scrapping.

An unknown individual, who identified himself on social media as "AdHoc" snuck aboard the ship at night sometime earlier this year and walked around filming and taking still photos of what he saw.

To someone who is somewhat familiar with passenger ships, it was eerie to see the spaces and shapes associated with a relaxed time at sea, now peeling and muddy and piled with garbage, having been "raised from the dead" last September in a pretty amazing feat of engineering that cost over $1 billion US (so far).

The Costa Concordia was cruising off the coast of Tuscany on the night of January 13th, 2012 when she struck a rock and began taking on water through a 230-foot gash in her hull.  In a rather grievous violation of maritime law, no abandon ship order was given for over an hour, by which time she had begun to heel over and drifted closer to shore. She eventually came to rest off the village of Giglio, which allowed some people to actually swim ashore.

Given how badly the evacuation was managed, it is somewhat amazing that of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew members on board, only 32 died.  This was the largest passenger ship ever lost in peacetime, and her commander, Francesco Schettino, has been convicted of manslaughter based on his actions before and after the collision, which included having his girlfriend (neither a paying passenger nor a crew member) on board and in the wheelhouse at the time of the accident, and abandoning the ship himself before all the passengers were evacuated.  Australian journalist Phillip Knightley described the incident as the "most significant event in modern maritime history" because "every single safety procedure designed to make sea travel safe failed miserably."

The cruise line Costa Crociere S. p. A., is one of the brands owned by Carnival Corporation and the Concordia was built from the same plans as their Carnival Splendor.  Governing bodies and industry groups on both sides of the Atlantic reviewed and tightened safety procedures in the wake of the wreck, including that large vessels are expected to stay two miles from ecologically sensitive coastlines and that boat drills must be conducted before leaving port.