Friday, March 23, 2012

Costa Concordia and ECDIS

COSTA CONCORDIA wreck off Isola del Giglio, Photo credit Uaohk, GNU Free Documentation License
Obviously it's too early to know what happened aboard the Costa Concordia but I wonder; were the rocks the ship struck displayed properly on the bridge navigation display?

If this article from Lloyd's List Exclusive: Costa Concordia in previous close call is accurate  the Costa Concordia passed closer to shore on an earlier voyage.  From the article:
"intelligence tracking data shows that Costa Concordia sailed within 230 m of the coast of Giglio Island on a previous voyage, slightly closer to the shore than where it subsequently hit rocks on Friday."
The intent was to pass about 500 meters off the rocks (which is very little margin for error at 15 kts). Evidently the ship struck the rocks  because of the  increased sweep path due to the turn to starboard. Did the watch officers realize how close they were passing to the rocks?

There has been reports of ECDIS failing to show underwater hazards. From MarineLink -
ECDIS Users Warned Some Displays Fail to Deliver:

Most of the remaining third failed to display some significant underwater features in the "Standard" display mode. Under various conditions, mostly related to safety depth settings and other variable factors, these underwater features can include some types of wrecks and other obstructions.
Anyone who understands human nature knows many ship's officers will  rely entirely upon the ECDIS display regardless of how much nagging is done not to.

It remains to be seen if the ECDIS display was a factor in this incident. In any case perhaps a high profile investigation will  shed some light on how poorly this critical technology is being implemented aboard ship.

Clearly something  is wrong if the  navigation system  aboard a ship fails to properly display underwater rocks, a hazard as old as seafaring itself.


Some links:

Another article on the poor implementation of ECDIS: From Marine Cafe Blog;  How to fix ECDIS: an expert’s view

From Pear Link: Bulker Grounds Crew knowledge deficient.

With regards to the Costa Concordia Grounding:

Some good graphics showing the path of the ship, also some good insights about over confidence Perspectives James Hamilton's  blog:  Studying The Costa Concordia Grounding

Costa Concordia 3D Google Earth Animation

The Cost of Complacency – Costa Concordia

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