A review of EU passenger ship safety rules is being stepped up following the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the Italian coast. Europe’s transport Commissioner Siim Kallas announced Friday that the review, which began in 2010, must take full account of the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the cruise vessel Costa Concordia in shallow water a week ago.
The review is designed to update existing rules on ship stability, design, evacuation procedures and equipment and crew training and qualifications.
“One week ago today, the voyage of the Costa Concordia met a tragic end,” said Mr Kallas.
“We will ensure that any lessons from the Costa Concordia are fully taken into account in the ongoing review and we want to accelerate the work wherever possible. “The challenge is to ensure that safety rules for passenger ships fully keep pace with the latest designs and technologies in a fast-changing sector”.
He said the safety record of passenger ships in EU waters had been “strong” for the last decade, but added: “There is no room for complacency when it comes to safety. I sincerely hope that the tragic images of today are not forgotten when we need firm support to turn our proposals into safety legislation later this year”.
The Commissioner has arranged talks before the end of this month with maritime cruise industry representatives and is hosting a Safety of Passenger Ships conference in the spring.
Current EU safety rules cover all passenger ships operating in EU waters, regardless of nationality.
The standards build on global rules set out by the International Maritime Organisation for ships on international voyages, including passenger ships.
The IMO rules are applied by EU member states, but extended to apply to vessels flying a member state flag and which are engaged even on “domestic” voyages - such as between Greek islands.
Meanwhile divers plumbing the capsized Costa Concordia's murky depths pulled out the body of a woman in a life vest Saturday, while scuba-diving police swam through the captain's cabin to retrieve a safe and documents that could be crucial for the court cases.
Likewise relatives of some of the 20 missing appealed to survivors of the Jan. 13 shipwreck to offer details that could help divers reach loved ones while it is still possible to search the luxury liner. The clock is ticking because the craft is perched precariously on a rocky ledge of seabed near Giglio Island