The cruise industry announces three new safety policies.

Cruise Lines international Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) has made a third announcement on the introduction of new industry-wide safety policies since launching its Operational Review on January 27, 2012.

The review, prompted by the Concordia tragedy in early January, has already instigated a new Muster Drill Policy (February 9, 2012) and Enhanced Reporting Requirements to Ensure Consistency, Transparency of Marine Casualty Data (March 21, 2012).

The three new policies relate to personnel access to the bridge, passage planning and life jackets – all issues raised by Concordia.

Bridge Access

According to various accounts, the captain of Concordia, Francesco Schettino, was distracted by bridge guests when the ship hit a rock off the island of Giglio.

Under the new policy, bridge access will now be limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted manoeuvring or when increased vigilance is required.

Increased vigilance is required, says CLIA spokesman David Peikin, “any time a vessel is constrained in its ability to freely navigate, such as in a restricted waterway/channel, entering a port, or an area where there is an unusually high volume or compression of vessel traffic”.

Life Jackets

Concordia passengers have reported that after the ship lost power many of them had to feel their way back to their cabins to access life jackets.

Consequently, while the current statutory requirement is for ships to carry life jackets for each person on board, the new policy requires ships to carry more. According to the CLIA, under the new policy “the number of additional adult life jackets to be provided must not be less than the total number of persons berthed within the ship’s most populated main vertical fire zone”.

Passage Planning

The sinking of Concordia occurred when Captain Schettino executed a ‘sail by’ of Giglio, a practice that involves sailing dangerously close to a coastal village to salute its residents (revealed through the course of the Concordia investigation to be alarmingly common). The stunt took Concordia on a dangerous unauthorised route, on which it ultimately hit a rock and sank.

While ships are required by law to create voyage plan before sailing, the new policy modifies this requirement, providing clarification and codification to ensure best practice.

In conclusion to his announcement of these policies, Manfredi Lefebvr, Chairman of the ECC and member of the CLIA Executive Committee, said, “We are convinced that this approach will achieve concrete, practical and significant safety dividends in the shortest possible time and fully reflects the measured and responsible progress on future safety initiatives by both the Commission and European Parliament following the Concordia tragedy.”