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Costa Concordia sparks US hearing on cruise ship safety

Costa Concordia sparks US hearing on cruise ship safety
The Costa Concordia tragedy is a ‘wake-up call’ to review standards and ensure passengers’ safety on cruise ships, said Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in calling a hearing for February. Eleven people died and 22 are believed missing after Costa Concordia capsized Friday off the coast of Italy. More than 120 US citizens were among the 4,200 people on board. Two Americans are unaccounted for.

Mica, a Republican from Florida, called cruise travel in general ‘a safe form of transportation and an important jobs provider for the nation’s economy.’ But he said Congress must closely examine how the Costa Concordia incident occurred and address questions raised about vessel safety and operating standards and crew training requirements.

The committee will review the specifics of the Costa Concordia incident, current safety measures and training requirements set by law and international maritime transportation agreements to ‘ensure this mode of transportation remains as safe as possible,’ Mica said.

The congressman has asked Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee chairman Frank LoBiondo to help lead the review and preliminary investigations in preparation for the hearing.

‘Although it is early in the investigatory process, it appears the Costa Concordia was a preventable tragedy,’ said LoBiondo, a Republican from New Jersey. ‘The committee and subcommittee will use this hearing to review current US laws and regulations in an effort to ensure a similar tragedy does not occur aboard vessels calling on American ports.’

Mica continued: ‘The cruise industry has grown dramatically over the past 25 years, providing not only enjoyable, affordable opportunities for travelers, but also a huge economic boost for parts of the US and throughout the world. We must ensure that vessel safety and operating standards and crew training requirements are adequate and adequately enforced and that the millions of Americans who board these ships are kept safe.’