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Costa rebuts report of black box, watertight doors malfunctions

Costa Crociere issued a blunt rebuttal of Italian media claims that the voice data recorder (VDR) aboard Costa Concordia had failed several days before the tragic accident off the island of Giglio on Jan. 13 and had not been repaired at the time of the incident.

This week leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported not only that the VDR or ‘black box’ had failed but that other key equipment had malfunctioned leaving the watertight doors open and that the ship was not carrying approved nautical charts for the voyage.

Citing leaked information from the ongoing investigation into the disaster, the paper said the inquiry had been badly hampered by a resulting lack of data from the black box, to the extent that ‘most of the period in which the ship was abandoned is in the dark.’

It claimed that Concordia’s VDR had experienced repeated problems, quoting company emails that described the situation as ‘unsustainable,’ and that a decision had been made to repair it once the ship reached Savona on Jan. 14, the day after its fateful passage past Giglio.

In response, Costa insisted that the black box, which according to the article failed on Jan. 9, had in fact ‘only issued an error code, which in no way meant the device was out of service, as is demonstrated by the fact that the data it contained were not perfectly in line with engineers’ expectations. There is no international regulation or convention that prohibits a ship from sailing in a similar situation,’ it added.

Costa also said it did not believe that the watertight doors were open due to a failure of the Martec electric power control system, and argued that the ship was equipped ‘with all the paper and electronic nautical charts needed to complete the voyage planned.’

On both counts, Costa said its version of events would be vindicated at the special evidence pre-trial hearing, adding pointedly that ‘it is up to the master, based on the voyage plan he himself establishes, to verify that the ship is provided with any further nautical charts.’

But what is worth remembering is that the ship should never have been sailing so close to the coast.

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