September 25, 2013
Costa Concordia, A Look Back
Major Step Toward Removal of Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia Trial Adjourned Through September (Update: 6:30 a.m. EDT) -- An Italian court judge approved a request from lawyers for former Captain Francesco Schettino and civil parties in the Concordia trial and called for a new expert examination of the ship in order to seek further evidence.
Concordia is sitting partially submerged in about 100 feet of water atop an underwater man-made platform after a "parbuckling" operation last week brought the ship upright, making further investigation inside the ship possible.
Among other things, the court order asks for an examination of onboard elevator electrical systems, according to a Reuters report. Schettino's lawyers have claimed emergency generators failed during the disaster, and prevented elevators from working. Schettino's team also wants further investigation into why certain redundant safety measures -- such as watertight compartments in the hull -- failed to work after the ship stuck an underwater reef. A 230-foot gash (70 meters) in the ship's hull was visible during the 18 months that the ship lay on its side just offshore of the Italian island of Giglio.
The order came on the same day the search for two missing passengers began, with divers entering previously inaccessible areas of the vessel.
(September 23, 3:05 p.m. EDT) -- Francesco Schettino tried to pin the blame for the Costa Concordia shipwreck on the helmsman who was steering the ship when it hit a rock and subsequently foundered, claiming 32 lives, on the first day of his trial.
In the trial, which is taking place in in Grosseto, Italy, Schettino claimed slow reaction time and poor execution of a corrective maneuver he ordered his Indonesian helmsman, Jacob bin Rusli, to perform caused the ship to strike a reef off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio, the Associated Press reported.
“In my experience, there wouldn't have been the crash [had the helmsman promptly carried out the order]", Schettino told the court after reportedly asking for permission to speak while technical experts were discussing whether the helmsman's actions contributed to the collision.
In the past, investigators have said that language problems between the Italian Schettino and the Indonesian Rusli could have delayed the maneuver. However, according to a Reuters report, the chairman of the expert witness panel, Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, said the ship wouldn't have been saved no matter how quickly Rusli had responded to Schettino's order.
Meanwhile, Schettino's lawyers have asked for the ship -- which was righted last week -- to be thoroughly searched for further evidence.
Former captain Francesco Schettino faces multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before Concordia was fully evacuated. The hearing is expected to continue for the remainder of the week, and then go into recess.
Schettino, who was stripped of his maritime license last week, is the sole defendant in the trial. Five Costa employees were granted plea bargains in a separate proceeding in July. Helmsman Jacob bin Rusli was convicted of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck and was sentenced to one year and eight months in jail. Costa Cruises last year paid a million euros in fines to avoid criminal prosecution, but victims are seeking further damages in civil proceedings.
--By Jamey Bergman, U.K. Production Editor