Tragedy has struck our seas off the coast of Italy as the Costa Concordia sinks. This matter is close to my heart for many reasons. I just returned from two weeks onboard a cruise ship and as most of my readers know, my husband is a Staff Captain. I am also a former crew member and I fear the worst for those who probably perished in the belly of the ship…where most of the crew cabins are located.
When I first started dating my husband he was a Safety Officer. I gained a new respect for his role onboard and took my responsibilities quite seriously when it came time for rescue training and drills. I learned that he could be held personally liable if something went wrong and that not only could it cost him his career and reputation but also his freedom.
I have been reading all the reports on this recent tragedy of the Concordia and as usual the media has been quick to point fingers and find fault with the Captain. I too have been wondering what the heck happened that night. Was the Captain taking unnecessary risks? Did he wait too long to sound the general alarm? Was there something seriously wrong with the ship and he lost control? Why was the passenger drill scheduled for the next day? Would the passengers have still panicked if they had done the drill earlier?
In time, hopefully all these questions will be answered. But I fear nonetheless. Why? Because not only the Captain was detained by police but also the first officer. If this was my husband’s ship he too would likely be in police custody trying to justify his actions. I’m not saying this is wrong. There is a huge level of responsibility in these positions and they must be held accountable and answer to authorities.
Many have also criticized the crew for being unorganized…I’m sorry, but all of us do drills weekly when the ship is in an upright position! Of course things appeared to be chaotic, just walking in an upright position obviously posed a challenge so how could crew get organized? My guess is they did the best they could.
Personally, even with all my former training, I will never know how I will handle such a situation until I am really in it. Will I panic? Will I keep my wits about me and help others? Will I follow my safety instructions which were assigned to me even though I know my muster station is underwater? What then? What’s the contingency plan?
I know how to launch a life raft, flip it over and collapse the roof for a helicopter rescue. I was an artist on the ship, not a navigational officer. But these were skills I learned in order to feel safe and secure and assist others if such a disaster occurred on my ship.
I pray for those who suffered during this tragic event. I pray for the Captain and hope that the public don’t sentence him without a fair trail. I pray for every crew member and passenger who is aboard a ship right now. Many crew members are young and unfortunately all too often I see the guests lack of respect for their training. If your ship is sinking please, I beg you, if a crew member is trying to help you listen to them!