COSTA CONCORDIA Disaster Casts Negative Light on the Practice of Sail-Bys

COSTA CONCORDIA Disaster Casts Negative Light on the Practice of Sail-Bys

It has been widely reported that Captain Francesco Schettino strayed from the COSTA CONCORDIA’s approved course to take the ship near the island of Giglio in a maneuver known as a “salute” or a “sail-by.” He admits to making a navigational error that caused the ship to strike a reef, after which it began taking on water and eventually capsized, claiming at least 16 lives. This tragedy has thrust sail-bys into the international spotlight.

The CEO of Costa Cruises told a Senate committee in Rome that prior to this accident the company “sometimes” encouraged sail-bys, although he says Costa did not authorize the maneuver on Jan. 13. Captain Schettino not only executed a pre-authorized salute in the same waters last August, but also reportedly has made sail-bys near Capri and Naples. Cruise Critic reached out to cruise lines to see if sail-bys are common, and the companies who responded said the practice is rare or non-existent. Rare or not, the COSTA CONCORDIA tragedy has demonstrated how catastrophic a sail-by-gone-wrong can be.

According to a spokesperson for Italy’s Coast Guard, there are no Italian or international maritime laws banning cruise ship salutes, though ships must keep a safe distance from land. Reportedly, the Italian government is now considering legislation to make sail-bys illegal.

The COSTA CONCORDIA disaster suggests the practice of taking a ship closer to a coastline in order to give people onboard and ashore an exciting view puts passengers and crew at unnecessary risk. Survivors of this tragic cruise ship accident and family members of the deceased should contact a qualified maritime attorney at Latti & Anderson LLP to determine their legal rights. We believe cruise lines should be held accountable for the actions of their employees, especially when a captain acts recklessly.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime trial lawyers