The Costa Concordia pictured on Jan. 14. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council, on behalf of the global cruise industry, today announced the adoption three new safety policies to be implemented immediately by the cruise industry as identified in an Operational Safety Review launched in late January following the Costa Concordia disaster.

The three new policies, which are being adopted voluntarily by the industry and exceed even the strictest regulatory requirements currently in effect, address issues related to passage planning, personnel access to the bridge and lifejackets, and each policies will be reported to the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration at their next session in May.

“As highlighted by these wide-ranging policies, we continue to take proactive measures to improve the safety of passengers and crew across the globe,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA.  “We look forward to working collaboratively to identify any additional operational issues that will achieve our longstanding goal of of continuous improvement and innovation in shipboard operations and safety.”

The three new policies include:

1)    Passage Planning – Although cruise lines have followed IMO guidance on passage planning for many years, our policy now deems this to be a mandatory minimum requirement and enhanced by endorsement of the best practices contained in the International Chamber of Shipping’s Bridge Procedures Guide.  Furthermore, under this policy each passage plan is to be thoroughly briefed to all bridge team members well in advance of its implementation and it is to be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the master.

2)    Personnel Access To The Bridge – To minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions on the bridge, we have adopted a policy that bridge access is to be limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted manoeuvring or when increased vigilance is required.

3)    Lifejackets – In addition to the statutory requirement of carriage of lifejackets for each person onboard, we have adopted a policy of carrying additional adult lifejackets onboard each cruise ship in excess of these legal requirements so that the number of additional adult lifejackets to be provided must not be less than the total number of persons berthed within the ship’s most populated main vertical fire zone.  This ensures that the number of lifejackets carried is far in excess of the number of persons actually onboard the ship.

The policies were reviewed by CLIA’s recently-announced panel of outside maritime and safety experts who are evaluating suggested policy improvements as part of the association’s continuous efforts to review and improve safety measures by developing comprehensive best practices for industry-wide implementation and ultimately, formal submission to the International Maritime Organization, as appropriate.

“The cruise industry is highly regulated and it is this regulatory regime, complied with onboard by our professional and committed officers and crews, that has given the cruise industry a truly remarkable safety record,” said Manfredi Lefebvre, Chairman of the European Cruise Council (ECC) and Member of the CLIA, who announced the policies at the Passenger Ship Safety event in Brussels.  “But as the Concordia incident demonstrates, there is no such thing as perfect safety. We do strive for a perfect commitment to safety.

“By bringing forward voluntary initiatives such as these, we significantly and immediately improve safety standards.  These initiatives are, we believe, fully supportive of the Commission’s goal of re-launching their ‘Quality Shipping Campaign’ through voluntary partnership agreements with the shipping industry as set out in its Maritime Policy 2009-2018. Specifically, we very much hope that the results of the Operational Safety Review as they are delivered over the coming months will give us fertile ground to grow our partnership with the Commission”

The new policies follow the industry’s announcement on January 27 of an Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia incident.  As a result of the review, the industry has already resulted two previous policy changes which include the new Muster Drill Policy (February 9, 2012) and Enhanced Reporting Requirements to Ensure Consistency, Transparency of Marine Casualty Data (March 21, 2012).

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