This week marks the one year anniversary of the tragic grounding of the mega cruise ship Costa Concordia resulting in the loss of 32 lives and the evacuation of 4200 passengers and crew.  At the time of the accident, Supply Chain Matters penned a commentary on the spillover effects of this accident on the broader shipping industry, where big mega-ships are the current operating principle. The world’s largest ocean container vessel, the 16,000 TEU capacity Marco Polo, operated by French line CMA CGM entered into service in mid-December, and we might add, a marvel of technology.

Shortly after the Concordia accident, there were estimates that an incredibly challenging salvage operation would take at least a year to complete and cost in excess of $500 million.  There were also implications related to current cruise ship safety, crew training and ship evacuation procedures.

A video report from NBC News hosted by Yahoo Business provides images of the ship still sitting in its original spot as salvage cranes and floating platforms surround it.  The person in charge of the righting and salvaging describes the incredible complexity of re-floating this vessel, which is not likely to meet its original salvage milestone. Meanwhile the sunken ship continues to sit within one of the most sensitive ecological areas on the Italian coast.

Incredibly, the captain of the vessel indicates that he has no regrets, and still believes he was misunderstood in escaping the vessel prior to all passengers. He places the blame on lower-ranking officers.  This captain is yet to stand trial on the charges of multiple manslaughters, wrecking and abandoning ship, even as victim’s relatives attend a memorial ceremony one year later. One wonders if the Italian government and cruise industry is really invested and having Captain Schettino brought to justice.

The open question is whether the industry has learned from this tragic accident?  With the advent of super technological-laden mega-ships, have ship crew training, safety, and evacuation procedures been vastly improved or are we all turning a blind eye on what occurred with the Costa Concordia.  Does the existence of these large mega-ships, designed for ultimate operating efficiency and capacity come with appropriate safety and navigational measures to avoid another major accident with loss of life or considerable monetary and ecological damage.

These were the questions we posed one year ago.

What have we learned?

Bob Ferrari