When the Costa Concordia ran aground on a reef off Giglio Island near the Tuscan coast of Italy last month, owners and insurers of vessels certainly paid attention. How could they not? The incident was the most noteworthy shipping casualty since the Exxon Valdez disaster, and it is now being called the biggest ever shipping loss for insurers.
While the investigation into the causes of the incident is ongoing, early indications are that it could have been avoided. And even if it was unavoidable, the management of the ensuing emergency by the captain and the crew of the Costa Concordia apparently left a lot to be desired. The fallout has been immense, and a magnifying glass has been placed over many issues relating to proper navigational practices and emergency management. Environmental concerns have arisen amid reports of spilling oil and fuel from the Costa Concordia’s hull. And, now, the ship’s owner is faced with determining whether it should salvage, cut or sink it, a decision that should have major financial, logistical, and environmental risks and ramifications.
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