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Sinking of Cruise Ship Raises Safety Questions

Author: Captain Melissa Bert, USCG, 2011-2012 Military Fellow, U.S.Coast Guard
January 19, 2012
Houston Chronicle

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This op-ed was originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

As the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic disaster approaches, the Costa Concordia grounding is a stark reminder that going to sea remains dangerous. A modern cruise ship sailing a routine route capsized in a matter of minutes in beautiful weather, leaving several people dead. About 15 million people took a cruise last year, and they are asking tough questions. Are the massive passenger vessels stable enough to withstand grounding or collision? Are the international crews capable of coordinating a rapid evacuation of thousands of people? Who oversees the operations of these vessels?

Now is the time to re-examine international safety regulations, particularly as the investigation reveals what went wrong off the Tuscan coast. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) should conduct a stem-to-stern review of safety systems requirements and damage control and stability criteria for passenger vessels. And the U.S. must take a major leadership role in this comprehensive undertaking, guided by our official guardians of sea safety: the U.S. Coast Guard.

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