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Maritime Union Expresses Worries Over Sub-Standard Safety Procedures Onboard Cruise Ships

November 23, 2012

Lipcon’s cruise accident lawyers have been representing passengers and crewmembers injured onboard vessels and in ports for over 40 years. We have seen several injuries and fatalities result from sub-par safety conditions onboard vessels, and although the Costa Concordia tragedy in January helped spark intererest in improving maritime safety regulations, accidents are still taking place.

According to the international maritime union Nautilus, cruise ship passengers are still being put at risk for serious injuries to take place due to sub-standard safety procedures. The union said that while action to improve safety onboard vessels is welcome, there is more that the cruise industry can do to make sure that the highest safety standards are met.

Last week, Cruise Lines International Associations and the European Cruise Council announced three new safety protocolsregarding the safe securing of heavy objects onboard, accessibility of lifejackets and smoother bridge operations. The measures were part of the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review, which was launched in January following the Costa Concordia capsizing accident, which claimed the lives of 32 passengers. So far, ten new safety measures have been introduced, but the union claims that further steps should be taken to protect those onboard.

A Nautilus spokesman said the new procedures are inexpensive and would have some impact, but there were bigger issues to worry about.

“A lot of what’s been done has been low-cost measures which will have some effect, and deals with some issues, but they don’t get to the heart of the concerns that we highlighted, such as the stability issues,” said the representative. “There are still issues with the angle of keels – if ships make sudden alterations off course, they can heel to dangerous levels. And there are issues with stability, with the super structures having a high level of gravity. Another issue is the stability of a ship when damaged.”

While the union – and other maritime authorities – are worried about the future of safety regulations onboard cruise vessels, others argue that the cruise industry has always had the highest standards of safety and the Concordia tragedy was a freak accident that should not reflect poorly on the industry in general.

“Passengers may look at the new safety measures and ask why on earth weren’t they in place before? Securing heavy items seems like a pretty obvious precaution,” said Adam Coulter, UK Editor of Cruisecritic.co.uk to MailOnline Travel. “However, it’s important to remember that the Concordia tragedy was a one-off freak accident and the first of its kind for around 100 years. Cruise safety records have historically been exemplary.”

A spokesperson for the European Cruise Council said it was not aware of the concerns brought forth by the union, but “encourage Nautilus to bring forward its concerns to that body with appropriate substantiating evidence, so that they can be properly evaluated.”

“Cruise ships are all designed and operated in compliance with the IMO’s (International Maritime Organization) strict requirements and in conjunction with international maritime authorities, design and surveying experts, and shipbuilders,” added the spokesperson.

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