> ANSA English > News

Doomed Costa Concordia cruised close to Giglio once before

Court told that ships permitted to sail close if at slow speeds

10 February, 16:55
Doomed Costa Concordia cruised close to Giglio once before (ANSA) - Grosseto, February 10 - The controversial route taken by the doomed Costa Concordia cruise liner the night it crashed and sank in January 2012 was very similar to one followed during a festival five months earlier, documents at the trial of the ship's former captain showed Monday.

Documents presented by insurance giant Lloyd's suggested that a similar route was followed in August 15, 2011 during a party on the island of Giglio just off the coast of Tuscany.

The route followed by the cruise liner in January 2012 took it too close to the rocks of the Giglio, where the massive ship crashed and sank, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more.

Then-captain Francesco Schettino is now on trial on multiple counts of manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

Lloyd's compiles tracking data that measures the routes and locations of ships, and showed the Costa Concordia hugging the shore of Giglio on August 14, 2011 in a way said to be similar to the fatal route taken five months later.

Sometimes ships are permitted to cruise very close to certain attractions to allow tourists on board a special view, the ship owner, Costa Crociere SpA said in a statement.

But it said that captains are ordered to follow such routes "at low speeds, in compete safety," the statement said.

"None of this happened on the night of the accident," it added.

Evidence showed that the Concordia traveled the same basic sea route 44 times, almost always passing at a distance of four to five miles from the island of Giglio.

The only exception, besides the fatal accident in 2012, was taken on August 14, 2011, where it passed very close to the island at a slow speed of around six knots per hour to view celebrations of the feast of the patron saint of Giglio.

According to previous testimony, Schettino ordered speeds of 16 knots for the Costa Concordia some five minutes before the cruise ship hit rocks off Giglio, leading to the January 2012 disaster.

Meanwhile, Massimiliano Gabrielli, a lawyer for plaintiffs in the case said during a break in the hearings that the so-called "bow" by captains when they sailed very close to a shore had become a habit or tradition and some even competed to see who could sail closest.