“Significant human error” by the captain of Costa Concordia looks likely to have caused the ship’s accident in which six people have been confirmed dead.

costa-concordia-captain
Costa Concordia's captain arrested by Italian authorities

A statement released from the shop’s owner’s Costa Crociere said:

“We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia.

“While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s Master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences.

“The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the Captain’s judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures.”

Read the full Costa Crociere statement here.

Captain Schettino denies negligence

Capt. Schettino (pictured above) has denied any negligence and is accused of manslaughter by the Italian authorities.

Schettino joined Costa in 2002 as a Safety Officer and became Captain in 2006 after acting as Staff Captain as well.

Costa stated: “As all Costa Masters [Captains] he has been constantly trained, passing all tests.”

The 3,700-passenger ship ran aground on Friday night just hours after setting sail from Civitavecchia after hitting rocks off the island of Giglio, just off the Italian coast.

Last night Italian RAI Radio reported that the ship’s “black box” revealed that the Costa Concordia was just 150m from Giglio, which is off the coast of Tuscany, when it struck rocks.

Passengers and crew made their way to the safety of the island, but Schettino is accused of leaving the ship well before everyone was evacuated.

The ship was carrying just 25 British passengers and 12 British crew, all of whom have been accounted for. Rescue teams are still searching for 15 people.

In this video, Captain Schettino claims that his navigation system did not detect the rocks which tore through his ship.

Extremely rare occurence

The Costa Concordia accident is “unprecedented” according to experts:

Bill Gibbons, chairman of the Passenger Shipping Association, a trade body which represents the majority of cruise lines including Costa, said:

“Incidents like this are extremely rare and we are shocked that an incident like this can happen.

“I’d like to reassure cruise ship passengers that cruising is still one of the world’s safest forms of transport and safety is and remains our number one priority.

He added: “Any lessons that can be learnt from this will be implemented as early as possible.”

In the modern world of cruising an incident like this is so rare that it is almost unprecedented. The last significant cruise accident was the Russian Volga, which sank in stormy weather with the loss of 128 lives in July last year.

Before that, on 23 August, 1992, the Greek-owned Royal Pacific sunk after a colliding with a fishing trawler due to low visibility. Thirty people died and 70 people were injured out of the 530 passengers on board.

The latest PSA statement reads:

“First and foremost, we extend our deepest sympathies to the passengers and crew who were on board and especially to the families of passengers and crew who lost loved ones.

“On behalf of the global cruise ship Industry, we would also like to pay tribute to all those who worked tirelessly to evacuate the ship to help minimise casualties.

“We would also like to reassure other cruise ship passengers that all our member lines are subject to the highest safety standards around the world according to international maritime requirements.

“We will continue to work closely with all interested parties, as the facts are fully developed in this matter, to learn from this tragic event and continue our efforts to further enhance the safety of cruise ships worldwide.

“Accidents such as this one are an extremely rare occurrence in the cruise industry, and cruising continues to be one of safest means of travel among all types of vacationing.”

Read our report of the Costa Concordia accident.