Sunday, January 22, 2012

Italian drivers

I haven't said much about the Costa Concordia shipwreck. The Italian driver jokes pretty much tell themselves, as do the jokes about the unlucky captain's excuse for abandoning ship before everybody was off (he "slipped" and fell into a lifeboat, how lucky!). But this satellite photo of the Costa Concordia from orbit gives you an idea of just how friggin' big that ship really *is* -- and shows you exactly how close it was to land when it ran aground. That ship had no business being anywhere near that island...

-- Badtux the Orbital Penguin


  1. I am not sure exactly how related this is but I've been thinking about it a lot since this accident occurred. I grew up sailing and was always taught to give nautical hazards that appear on charts a wide berth. Mostly because it is easy to make small errors when calculating one's position. I've heard that since GPS systems have become standard, marine accidents have become more common because people tend to allow themselves to get closer to hazards listed on the charts but it turns out that the charts aren't quite as accurate as people assume.

    In the case of a vessel that size, I would think that any deviation from an established route would be inadvisable. Especially considering how easy it is to run aground. There is a saying that there are three types of sailors, those who haven't run aground YET, those you have run aground, and liars. Considering that, you would think that anyone responsible for a boat with over 4000 people on it would be extra cautious.

  2. I am not a sailor. My late father, however, received a free training course courtesy of the US Navy. Dad very nearly "grounded" his ship on Omaha Beach (exactly as planned), but a lot of the soldiers on board got out alive despite the Germans' best efforts.

    Seriously, I cannot comprehend the delusions of grandeur that led an engineer to design a vessel that big and apparently unstable. We had a cruise ship off the coast of Galveston tip almost sideways only a few miles out of port. They managed to right that one, but I've stood in Seawolf Park and watched those big bathtubs head out, and IMHO it's a miracle they ever float upright.

  3. I know that there is a lot of incentive for the builders of cruise ships to put as much on top as possible. Everyone wants a room with a balcony after all. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the boat is unstable even though it *looks* like it should be. If they put enough weight down below, it should be ok.

    There is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. Considering how few major cruise ship wreaks there have been, I would be surprised if there were any serious design flaws with them though. Well other than aesthetic flaws but those are entirely a matter of opinion :)

  4. The ship was run aground after hitting the reef that tore it open to prevent it sinking in deep water. Imagine the disaster if that had happened.

  5. Montag has it correct. The ship hit a submerged rocky outcropping 92M from shore & doubled back to beach itself. This was a good move on the part of the crew.

    Watch here

    The route followed closely matched & crossed over one previously used..
    see course overlaps here

    IIRC, the rock was located at the jog in the red line just prior to crossing the blue.

    As for too close, this seems to be fairly routine, tho perhaps another 100M would have been good insurance.

    BTW, again, IIRC, the rock was located on charts.

  6. I've taken sailing lessons. I've looked at charts -- I have a local one framed at home. I'll spend my vacations on the backside of a mountain range, thank you very much. Up there you can't drown unless you throw yourself into a river (or hike a narrow canyon during a rainstorm), the Marines (really!) will come rescue you if your house is on fire, and if you drive badly and get into an accident, it's YOUR fault, not that of some distant captain who falls into a lifeboat.


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