Carnival Cruises can dodge authorities once again

In Australian Domestic Tourism, National Headlines, Transport

TTN: Police are yet to say if two passengers who went overboard from a Carnival cruiseliner off the coast of Forster, NSW were involved in an argument. If the passengers were found to be heavily intoxicated, the liners will again be exempt Australia’s Responsible Service of Alcohol legislation in the cruise industry’s famous law labyrinth.

(See below news item to see summarised Wikipedia detail of the Costa Concordia case including Carnival’s legal response)

(See bottom for Gulf of Mexico incident)

From smh.com.au

Cruise ship couple were fighting the night they fell overboard, says police source

A couple who went overboard from a cruise ship off the NSW coast and presumably died had been fighting before the fatal incident.

More information has emerged about what happened between paramedic Paul Rossington, 30, and his girlfriend Kristen Schroder, 27, on board the Carnival Spirit cruise ship.

CCTV captured the couple in the ship’s casino on Wednesday evening having a short but heated argument, said a senior police source.

That incident led them to skip dinner with Ms Schroder’s family, who were accompanying them on holiday.

After they left the casino, CCTV recorded them “mucking around” in a corridor on their way to a lift, giving the impression they were no longer quarrelling.

The couple were known to argue frequently, but only for about five minutes an episode.

“It’s a common occurrence between them,” said another source who asked not to be identified.

Around 8.50pm that night, CCTV captured the pair going overboard into the Tasman Sea, one immediately after the other, from mid-deck of the ship, off the NSW mid-north coast.

The footage shows Ms Schroder climbing over the railing and standing on the other side of it as she faced towards the sea.

Police did not reveal how long she was standing there and were unable to determine if she intended to jump or simply fell.

Mr Rossington was not captured in the CCTV footage when Ms Schroder went over but can be seen moments later jumping overboard.

“It was in his nature to save people,” the source said.

Another CCTV camera captured Ms Schroder striking a lifeboat before she went into the water.

Mr Rossington was a NSW paramedic in Barraba, north of Tamworth, where he lived with Ms Schroder.

It is understood the couple met in Sydney where Ms Schroder had worked as a senior property manager.

The couple moved to Barraba about 12 months ago for Mr Rossington’s job.

His family is preparing to travel to Barraba with a moving van to pack up the couple’s belongings from their home, AAP understands.

Police called off the search for the pair late on Friday afternoon after helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, police boats and a navy ship had searched 500 square nautical miles off the coast of Forster.

In a brief statement, Ms Schroder’s family thanked emergency services for their efforts to find the couple.

Mr Rossington’s family also expressed their thanks.

“We wish to pass on our extreme gratitude to every person who has worked so hard to help find Paul and Kristen, as well as to the many people who have offered so much of their support,” the statement read.

NSW Ambulance said it had activated its support network for Mr Rossington’s work colleagues.

Carnival Australia has defended the company’s safety standards, saying rails on the ship are higher than international regulations require.

AAP

From theaustralian.com.au

Search continues for cruise pair off NSW

A SEARCH is continuing off the NSW coast for two people reported missing from a cruise ship when it docked in Sydney yesterday.

Paul Rossington, 30, and Kristen Schroder, 27, went overboard about 8.50pm on Wednesday, police said after reviewing the ship’s CCTV.

Police and Australian Search and Rescue aircraft and marine vessels are continuing their search throughout the night in an area approximately 60 nautical miles east of Forster.

NSW Police Marine Area Commander Mark Hutchings earlier said it was not known whether the pair jumped off the ship or fell overboard, although it is understood their disappearance isn’t considered suspicious.

He said said the images indicated the pair went overboard from a deck about halfway up the ship’s side, but added it was too early to say whether they jumped or fell overboard. He did not rule out the possibility of a suicide pact.

The alarm was only raised yesterday morning – three hours after the ship docked at Sydney’s Circular Quay – when the couple’s luggage was unclaimed. Police conducted a thorough search of the ship, but the pair was not located.

None of the other 2680 people on the cruise ship is believed to have witnessed the incident, he added.

The luxury cruiser Carnival Spirit is operated by Carnival Corp, which in recent years been plagued by a series of high-profile problems.

Last year, 32 people were killed when another of its ships – the Costa Concordia – ran aground off the coast of Italy.

Passengers cruising the Indian Ocean on the Costa Allegra were left without working toilets, running water or air conditioning for three days after a fire cut the ship’s power.

In February this year, passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph spent five days without power in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine-room fire.

Costa Concordia disaster on Wikipedia

And extracted from Wikipedia:

Investigations

The Italian Marine Casualty Investigation Central Board (MCICB Commissione centrale di indagine sui sinistri marittimi, CCISM),[195][196] a unit of the Corps of the Port Captaincies – Coast Guard, conducts the technical investigations of maritime accidents and incidents within Italian-controlled waters.[197] On 2 February 2012 the Paris, France prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary inquiry to question survivors to establish any criminal liability and “assess psychological damage”.[198] On 6 February, the International Chamber of Shipping, a consortium of national shipping agencies, called for the “earliest possible publication of the Italian accident investigations.”[199] Judge Valeria Montesarchio has summoned survivors to testify at a hearing to be convened on 3 March in Grosseto.[113] The European Maritime Safety Agency is the EU agency tasked to develop a common methodology for investigating maritime accidents.

International experts have said that it is too early to speculate on why the vessel capsized despite its watertight compartments but that the size of the vessel is unlikely to have been an issue.[200][201] Tuscany’s prosecutor general has said that the investigation will seek to find causes for various aspects of the event, and beyond Captain Schettino to other persons and companies.[21]

The captain tested negative for drug and alcohol use but one group, that is suing Costa Cruises and that leaked the test results, disputed the tests as unreliable.[202]

On 24 February, prosecutors alleged that Schettino “slowed down the ship so that he could finish dinner in peace” and to compensate for lost time, subsequently increased the speed to 16 knots (30 km/h) just before the sail-past.[203]

By January 2013 the technical investigation report had not yet been released. Lloyd’s List said that the casualty investigation board “roundly” received criticism for not having released the investigation yet.[195] The board said that the investigation was delayed because the Italian prosecuting team had seized important information, including the voyage recorder.[195]

Criminal proceedings against officers

Captain Schettino (born 1960 in Meta, Naples), who had worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years,[175] and First Officer Ciro Ambrosio, were arrested.[45][62] The captain was detained on suspicion of manslaughter and for violations of the Italian Penal Code and Code of Navigation on three specifications: of his having caused the shipwreck “owing to … imprudence, negligence and incompetence” resulting in deaths; having abandoned about 300 people “unable to fend for themselves”; and “not having been the last to leave” a shipwreck.[4][204] They were questioned on 14 January.[205] At the validation hearing of 17 January 2012 the Court of Grosseto charged Schettino and Ambrosio with the results from the records of investigation compiled immediately after the event, including the first report of the Coastguard of Porto Santo Stefano of 14 January 2012, the summary testimonial information given by the members of the ship’s crew, the chronology of events of the Harbour Office of the Port of Livorno, the AIS recording on record, and the PG Annotation of the Harbour Office of the Port of Livorno.[4] Schettino was released from jail on 17 January but was placed under house arrest.[75] The house arrest order included an “absolute prohibition against going away or communicating by any means with persons other than his cohabitants.”[4] On 7 February, the Court decided to continue Schettino’s house arrest.[206] His pretrial hearing was scheduled for 20 March.[30] If convicted on all charges, Schettino could be sentenced to a prison term exceeding 2,500 years.[207] On 5 July Schettino was released from house arrest but mandated to reside in Meta di Sorrento.[208][209]

Officials were initially trying to determine why the ship did not issue a mayday and why it was navigating so close to the coast. The delay in the evacuation request was also unexplained.[210]

On 11 February, TG5 broadcast a video of the commotion on the bridge following the collision. In the video, when one officer said, “Passengers are getting into the life boats”, Schettino responded “Vabbuò” (English: “All right”). The magistrate in charge of the inquiry remarked, “This is new to us – I’ve just seen it for the first time.”[211]

On 19 February, the Associated Press reported that traces of cocaine had been found on Schettino’s hair samples “but not within the hair strands or in his urine — which would have indicated he had used the drug”.[212]

On 23 February, two additional charges, of “abandoning incapacitated passengers and failing to inform maritime authorities” were levied against Captain Schettino.[6] On 22 February, four officers who were on board and three managers of Costa Cruises were placed formally “under investigation” and “face charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and failing to communicate with maritime authorities”.[213][214]

Recorded evidence

One of the ship’s voyage data recorders (VDRs), which was designed to float, was recovered. Another one containing different data was located on 17 January.[215] A third one is in a submerged part difficult to reach.[216] On 19 January, all the data storage devices from the ship’s control panel, including hard disks, were recovered.[217] One of the hard disks contained videos from cameras located near the control board, which are expected to reveal the movements of the ship’s captain and officers.[52] The chief prosecutor received from the Guardia di Finanza a video, taken from their patrol boat, that filmed the ship between 22:30 and 23:10 or at 23:20.[52]

On 3 March, in Grosseto, judges began a hearing open to all survivors, other “injured parties”, and their lawyers but closed to the general public and media. Four specialists were ordered to review the VDR data and relate their conclusions at a 21 July hearing.[126] Prosecutor Francesco Verusio had stated that it could be “a month, two months, three months” for evidence analysis, including of recorded conversations on the bridge, to be completed.[218] The hearing also determined who could “attach lawsuits to the case”. Inhabitants of Giglio and some environmental groups were denied this ability.[126]

Reactions

Costa Cruises and its parent companies

Costa Crociere S.p.A. also does business using the name “Costa Cruises”. Costa Cruises is jointly owned by a dual-listed company comprising the two separate companies Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc.[219] Carnival Corporation announced on 30 January 2012 that its board of directors will engage outside consultants in various disciplines, including emergency response, organization, training and implementation, to conduct a comprehensive review of the accident and the company’s procedures.[220]

Costa Cruises at first offered to pay Captain Schettino’s legal costs but decided later that it would not do so.[49]

Regulatory and industry response

Corrado Clini, Italy’s Minister of Environment, said that saluting, a “custom that has resulted in an outcome visible to all”, should no longer be tolerated.[221] On 23 January 2012, UNESCO asked Italy to reroute cruise ships to avoid sailing too close to “culturally and ecologically important areas”,[89] and on 1 March, Italy excluded large ships from sailing closer than two miles from marine parks.[222]

The European Maritime Safety Agency was in the process of conducting a review of maritime safety when the accident occurred. On 24 January 2012, Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas told the Transportation Committee of the European Parliament that lessons learned from the loss of Costa Concordia would be taken into account. British MEP Jacqueline Foster warned against “trial by television and trial by newspapers“, a view that was backed by fellow British MEP Brian Simpson, who said that it was “good practice to wait for the official report”.[223]

On 18 January 2012, the Chairman of the United States House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure announced that it would hold a hearing, conducted jointly with the Committee’s Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, to “review the events of this specific incident, current safety measures and training requirements”.[224] Testimony and statements at the 29 February hearing primarily promoted North American cruise ships as being safe.[225]

Gianni Scerni, the chairman of Registro Italiano Navale (RINA), the classification society that issued Costa Concordia a certificate of seaworthiness and safety management in November 2011, resigned on 18 January 2012.[226][227]

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the European Cruise Council (ECC) and the Passenger Shipping Association adopted a new policy requiring all embarking passengers to participate in muster drills before departure.[228][229] On 29 January 2012, at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Holland America Line made one passenger disembark from the cruise ship MS Westerdam for “non-compliance” during a mandatory muster drill.[230] On 24 April, the CLIA and the ECC introduced new policies: bridge officers must agree on the route before departing; ships must carry more lifejackets; and access to the bridge must be limited.[231]

In an action some parliamentarians said was a reaction to the wrecking of the Costa Concordia, the Italian government withdrew proposed legislation that would have reduced current restrictions on mineral exploration and production.[232] On 8 July 2012, CNN reported that the disaster brought changes to safety and evacuation procedures in the cruise industry. Carnival, the parent line of Costa, and several other cruise lines now require safety instruction, referred to as muster drills, before leaving port. The new muster policy consists of 12 specific emergency instructions, which include providing information on when and how to don a life jacket, where to muster and what to expect if there is an evacuation of the ship.[233]

The Guardian’s coverage of the Gulf of Mexico incident

Passengers on board a stricken US cruise liner have spoken of dwindling food supplies and malfunctioning toilets after a fire knocked out the ship’s engines, electricity and air conditioning over the weekend.

The Carnival Triumph lost power after a fire in the aft engine room early Sunday. The ship, which is carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members, drifted for about 90 miles in the Gulf of Mexico before tugboats intercepted it on Monday. It is expected to dock in Mobile, Alabama, on Thursday.

The lack of electricity has meant overflowing toilets and soaring temperatures on board, with many passengers sleeping on deck. Without power, the Carnival Triumph’s stabilisers were not functioning on Monday, and passengers complained that the ship’s subsequent listing from side to side was doing little to improve the troublesome bathroom facilities.

Joel Dyer, a youth worker at a church in Oklahoma City, told the Guardian that his wife Joy, 36, is on the cruise ship with a group of friends, and is among a number of those who have taken to the deck to escape the heat in their cabins. In text messages sent from the ship on Sunday and Monday and shared with the Guardian, Dyer said conditions were deteriorating.

“Ship has been leaning all day, but night winds are made it lean more – it was very tilted to the side, hard to walk across,” she said. “Getting very resourceful– making more camp setups with bath robe belts, bent hangers, sheets, room tables, unwound rope that we take from other parts of the ship.”

On Sunday, passengers were forced to use showers and plastic bags instead of toilets, Dyer and several other passengers have confirmed. By Monday a few toilets were back in use but there were long lines.

“People are being good – crew is so unselfish and working so hard,” Dyer said in a text sent on Monday. “People starting to get more irritable, and others showing more kindness. I fear a couple of days from now when people start going crazy.”

Joel, 37, who is at home in Yukon, Oklahoma with the couple’s two sons, said “the most difficult part is not hearing much directly” from his wife. “Apart from the times when they were able to get cellular reception from the ships that were getting supplies, those were the only times I get to hear from her.”

Brytan Thomas, from Texas, told the Guardian a similar story of brief text exchanges with her mother and sister, who are onboard the Carnival Triumph.

“The conditions are terrible,” Thomas said. “Water is seeping from the walls, people are sleeping on the deck outside, they have very limited food and stuff to drink and not much power. The boat is leaning and when people walk [they] walk sideways. It is very stressful and I am just praying that they make it to Alabama safely Thursday.”

The Carnival Triumph set sail from Galveston, Texas, on Thursday 7 February, and was due to return to the port on Monday morning. The 272-metre cruise liner ran into difficulty on Sunday morning when a fire broke out in the engine room. The fire was automatically extinguished, with no injuries to crew or passengers, but it left the ship without power, drifting off the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a statement, Carnival Cruise Lines president Gerry Cahill said the ship would arrive in Mobile, Alabama, “sometime on Thursday”.

“All of our guests are safe, and we’re doing everything we can to make them as comfortable as possible. The ship has maintained emergency generator power since the fire occurred and the technical team on board has been successful in gradually restoring auxiliary power to operate some basic hotel functions,” he said in a statement.

“Currently, public and cabin toilets are operational in certain sections of the ship, power has been restored to a limited number of elevators, and some power in the Lido dining area is providing for hot coffee and limited hot food service.”

Cahill said all passengers would receive a full refund for the cruise and transport expenses. Carnival would also offer a “future cruise credit equal to the amount paid for this voyage, as well as reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the voyage,” he said.

The Carnival Triumph and the company that owns it have faced controversy before. The Triumph was seized in Texas in March 2012 after a lawsuit was filed against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of a woman who died on the Costa Concordia cruise ship in Italy.

The Costa Concordia, which partially sunk in Tuscany in January 2012, killing 32 people, was owned by a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines, called Costa Cruises.

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