A recent meeting at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. (attended by International Cruise Victims (ICV) Board representatives) discussed the new International Maritime Authority (IMO) policy of using “the ship as the lifeboat”, which drew the following response from ICV.
ICV inform that the opening address to the meeting was given by the head of the IMO Safety Committee, Captain Andy Winbow.
According to Kendall Carver, Chairman of International Cruise Victims (ICV), the assumption the new policy makes is that ships don’t sink, but obviously the Costa Concordia and the Korean ferry boat designed to hold close to 1000 passengers overnight could NOT be used as lifeboats.
In addition, in a major paper prepared by ICV and submitted to the NTSB, the following facts concerning safety regulations were presented:
- Lifeboats - cruise ships are permitted by the IMO to sail with only 75% of capacity.
- They allow ships to have the lifeboats several decks away from the muster points.
- Do not require special regulations for wheelchair or limited mobility passengers.
- Allows single hull cruise ships into icy waters, against the advice of all the experts.
- Permits usage of lifejackets which provide inadequate protection and need to be updated to a type that incorporates a hood, face mask and crotch strap.
Finally, the issue of flag states maintaining compliance of all safety regulations is of concern say ICV. Of particular concern to them was testimony given at the NTSB meeting by John Akhurst, a representative of the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA), who testified that they have only a full time staff of six technical experts in London to manage compliance of 1600 registered ships including… 226 cruise ships.
According to Carver, “It is ICV's position that these ships are not properly reviewed for safety compliance by the flag states given their limited resources and staff.”