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Author Topic: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?  (Read 20158 times)

Offline CliffordK

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Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« on: 19/01/2012 04:37:47 »
Looking at the BBC images and diagrams of Costa Concordia, everything seems backwards.


http://blog.geogarage.com/




The diagram seems to indicate damage primarily to the Left side of the ship. 
However, the ship listed, and sunk on the Right side, leaving the hole in the ship nearly completely out of the water.

Now, they could be missing something.  Perhaps the ship hit rocks on both sides, and there is massive damage somewhere that extends across to the right side, or an even bigger hole on the right side. 

It just seems odd, as if the ship design was poorly compartmentalized below the water line, or something was done to exacerbate the problem.

Haven't the cruise ship designers learned anything since the Titanic?
« Last Edit: 19/01/2012 04:51:30 by CliffordK »


 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #1 on: 19/01/2012 07:45:07 »

Haven't the cruise ship designers learned anything since the Titanic?


Have you ever been up close to one of these things? I worked in an office ten floors up in Jersey City overlooking the Hudson. I could see vessels like this coming and going all the time, and I was always amazed that they managed to stay upright at all. To me, they looked like gigantic flat bottom barges with huge condominiums stuck on top.

Under similar circumstances, the Titanic might have done a lot better.
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #2 on: 19/01/2012 07:48:37 »
I was looking at the pix again, and I realized that's actually a gigantic rock that's wedged in the hull.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #3 on: 19/01/2012 09:16:30 »
I was looking at the pix again, and I realized that's actually a gigantic rock that's wedged in the hull.
I was going to say that the ship looks a bit top-heavy.  Nope, never actually been on one, and I'm not sure if I've seen a passenger liner quite that BIG.

My question is what caused the rock to be UP...  and all the way out of the water?  I could imagine being stuck on a reef crooked, but apparently the captain actually was able to maneuver the ship for a period of time after striking the rock.  That is before the captain decided to abandon ship, and beat the crowd!!

Of course, there may be a bigger rock embedded in the other side.
 

Offline imatfaal

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #4 on: 19/01/2012 14:04:37 »
One possibility - if a ship really grounds itself badly, ie its momentum is enough to lift a portion of the vessel further out of the water than it should be, then the rest of the ship pivots away from the fulcrum point.  That means that the non-grounded section sinks further to compensate for the lack of buoyancy - this section is then lower.  The water than now has ingress flows to the lowest section of the ship.  The ship now has less buoyancy and is forced lower into the water, but the bit that has grounded is supported (by the rocks) and again the unsupported side of the ship sinks lower and so on and so forth. 

the main lesson from the titanic was the lack of lifeboats and drills (SOLAS) - and perhaps the lesson from this incident will be the sort of lifeboats and launching mechanisms.  although any loss of life is tragic - the fact that a boat with 4500 people turned on its side quite rapidly in the middle of the night in the winter med and the dead can be numbered in the tens rather than the thousands is a blessing.  whether this was luck or valid evacuation methods only time will tell

The speed of the listing will need to be investigated - but then that is a fairly chunky hole. 

The actions of the master, before, during, and after are not looking good - but we better wait till we see the evidence hear him in person and the bridge recordings rather than the inane witterings of the italian press and the overly quick action of costa to distance themselves.  At the end of the day the fault is the masters - almost be definition - but the moral and legal culpability is still to be determined.   But this sort of story/evidence is pretty damning

 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #5 on: 19/01/2012 20:28:52 »
Interesting idea, that the initial impact caused the list.  And, then the water all entered the ship and flowed from the left to the right side...  making the problem worse.

The point about the Titanic was that its design was to compartmentalize the part of the ship below the water line.  And, it would have been effective had one less compartment been punctured (in theory).

Here is what I think happened.
The crew is supposed to have some right-left control of the flow of the water to help keep the ship upright.

As imatfaal mentioned, when they hit the rock, it initially knocked the ship slightly off balance.  Whether bilge compartments were open that should have been closed, or there were living quarters in the bottom of the ship, I can't say, or perhaps they stayed hung up on the rock for some time (the black box should tell more).

Or, perhaps it was a fundamental design flaw.

Nonetheless, the interpretation was since the Right side of the ship was sinking, the passages from the left to right needed to be opened.  This would have been the correct response had the main damage been on the Right.  So, rather than containing the hole to those flooded compartments on the Left, they opened passageways allowing more water into the opposite side of the ship, and thus made the problem worse.

It just seems as if the crew would have to know which bilge compartments are flooded, and which direction they wish to force the water to flow. 

Perhaps it was a passive self-righting system that failed with this particular insult, or they don't have doors/valves designed that they can be remotely opened AND CLOSED,or as they get flooded, the control and monitoring systems start failing.

If the ship starts listing to the right, then what is the response of the people onboard?  All the furniture onboard?  Do they get 4,000 people running to the downhill side to see what happened?  All the furniture also shifting to the right? 

Anyway, I hope they treat this as seriously as the FAA treats jet aircraft crashes.  I think the conclusion must be that the rock & hole should not have ended up out of the water.  And, thus, the sinking would have to be attributable to either a design flaw, or an improper response from the crew.  And, if the crew responded improperly, then the question should return to WHY?  Did they not receive adequate status information?
 

Offline traveler

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #6 on: 21/01/2012 07:18:33 »
I'll bet that the hole actually let ballast water out of the hull, which would make the other side heavier. This would shift the center of gravity AND the center of bouyancy. If they are not in line, there is going to be a problem. If you GOOGLE Couger Ace you will find an example of what can happen. They did not hit anything, just rotated too much ballast water and became top heavy.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #7 on: 21/01/2012 08:51:22 »
I'll bet that the hole actually let ballast water out of the hull, which would make the other side heavier. This would shift the center of gravity AND the center of bouyancy. If they are not in line, there is going to be a problem. If you GOOGLE Couger Ace you will find an example of what can happen. They did not hit anything, just rotated too much ballast water and became top heavy.
Most interesting occurrence to the Cougar Ace.

The water line is marked by the Red/Blue.

The entire area up to the water line can not be full of ballast, otherwise the ship would sink below the waterline.  The ballast tanks could have some obscure shape with ballast up the sides of the ship, and an air pocket in the middle, but that would truly be odd.  Perhaps freshwater or wastewater tanks?

Anyway, it would seem that ballast would have to run uphill for it to run out.

I suppose the ballast tank could leak internally.  So, rather than having water running out of the ship, the tank could just allow the water to run to where it isn't supposed to be.

----------

One other thing that happened...
The rock was struck on the left side.
The Captain then executed a hard left turn, I think, which would have caused centrifugal force to the right.

Could the turn have shifted the ballast, and balance?  I suppose it is all relative.  I don't think these ships can turn on a dime.
« Last Edit: 21/01/2012 09:24:04 by CliffordK »
 

Offline rhade

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #8 on: 21/01/2012 11:44:58 »
You mean  there's ever a right way to sink?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #9 on: 21/01/2012 21:30:27 »
You mean  there's ever a right way to sink?

I'm not sure that honking the ships horns late at night and demonstrating to the locals what a shipwreck along their shore would look like is the way to do it.

I suppose the ideal way to sink would be to find a soft, flat sandy place to gently lower the ship down so it stays vertical without too much strain in the middle.  But then refloating the ship is always a pain if it is sitting too high in the water.

Much of Italy's west coast is quite rocky.  Even if the Costa Concordia is refloated intact, it will suffer some extraordinary hull damage and will require a complete restoration, or scrapping.  And the more time resting on the bottom, the worse it will be.

At least this way they have good access to patch the primary damage before attempting to refloat the ship   :-\
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #10 on: 23/01/2012 13:33:22 »
Imatfaal is right. In fact, it probably doesn't need the rock to lift the ship at all. Once there is sufficient water ingress, if there is not an adequate compartment arrangement then any tilt to the ship (by wave action or, more likely, maneuvering) will cause the water to go to one side or the other and the resulting list will be maintained. Of course, as the ship was steered into shallow water after the damage, it may be that the bottom of these shallows was not flat, so even if the ship had been sensibly compartmentalised the final list may result from the sea bottom rather than the distribution of the water.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #11 on: 23/01/2012 21:08:47 »
The final resting place for the ship appears to be on its side, with the top of the ship facing the land.  So, the bottom is not determining the angle it has settled with.  Nor did the sea floor cause it to tip over towards the land as it should have caused it to tip the other direction.

The crew could have also initiated a ballast transfer causing the initial tilting, that then got worse.

Poor compartmentalization still seems to be an issue (which is what they were exploring with the design of the Titanic a century ago).

Perhaps the risk of compartmentalizing the water to one side is inducing a greater tilt towards the hole. 
 

Offline graham.d

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #12 on: 24/01/2012 08:47:35 »
I doubt it has to do with the sea bottom either, Clifford, but I don't think you can rule this out. The coast there is rocky and very uneven; it is not like a beach, just sloping awy from land.

As was demonstrated in the sinking of a RoRo ferry the other year, it only takes a few inches of water to cause some ships to list enough to then get swamped and sink. Whatever side the water moves to is enough to provide positive feedback that magnifies the list. It is a feature of these rather flat bottomed craft. A traditionally shaped hull would be much more stable in this regard but the draught would be unnacceptably large and there are probably other disadvantages that make this unattractive.

Compartmentalising, if done sufficiently, solves the problem, but I guess is too inconvenient and adds tonnage. To work well it has to be done both longitudinally and laterally so that stability is maintained even if some compartments get totally full. Most RoRo ferries now employ a longitudinal barrier so that they can withstand much more water ingress without a catastrophic list, but would not survive a hole in the side like the Costa Concordia.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #13 on: 24/01/2012 10:08:12 »
Found the Wikipedia page:

[Initially]Those on board said the ship suddenly tilted to the port side.  Passengers were later advised to put on their life jackets.  When the ship later turned around, attempting to head back to the harbour, it began to list approximately 20° to the starboard side, creating problems in launching the lifeboats
So, the main starboard (right) list occurred about the time when the ship made the turn (centrifugal force moving the water as well as tilting the vessel?)

However, had the vessel sunk in deeper water, the disaster could have been much worse.  So, there certainly was a benefit of turning the ship back towards land.

One thing I've been wondering about, and apparently was an issue with the MS Estonia is that once the ship starts a severe list (90°), then one can still walk along the walls horizontally to some extent, but it becomes very difficult to climb upwards. 

Perhaps all transverse hallways should have ladders built into the walls.  They can be visible, or hidden by panels, or even able to be uncovered under the floor boards.  They could be made to look like railings, if they are built strong enough.  And, they need to be in both walls, so that if the ship has a fore, or aft tilt, or perhaps more than a 90° list, they are still easy to use. 

I suppose walking, or crawling along walls if the now horizontal aisles are too narrow, is even an issue with all the doorways.  Raised door sills would help somewhat, but they would have to be quite substantial to allow easy movements with a 90° list.  Can one even escape from one's own cabin if the doorway is on the upward side?

Perhaps we should be thankful that the death toll wasn't much higher on the Costa Concordia.
 

Offline Liberator37

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #14 on: 24/01/2012 13:54:56 »
I've seen one animated diagram showing the ship making its final, 180-turn to starboard, not to port, which would tend to shift water to the left, port side; so the mystery of why she listed to starboard remains. Perhaps it was just a small random effect at first, which became irreversible.

However there's another puzzle about compartments. Large though the gash is, if there were proper fore-and-aft compartments on lower decks and if the emergency doors in them were shut (hey, Schettino, you there?) then all the incoming water should have stayed aft and the ship should have stayed afloat, albeit stern-heavy.

That she did no such thing but stayed on an even longitudinal keel suggests either that there were no such compartments or that those doors were left open or that there are several big holes along the length of the hull, not just the one we can see. It will be fascinating to watch the facts emerge.
 

Offline ScruffyScirocco

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #15 on: 26/01/2012 19:12:22 »
I think you're missing a critical point here.  After striking the rock, the captain ordered a hard turn to port to beach the ship before it sank.  such a turn at speed would cause the ship to heel hard to starboard, causing the flooding below the waterline to shift to starboard.  The ship basically did a 180 degree turn and by that time the lifeboat decks were awash and taking water on the starboard side, sealing the ships fate.
 

Offline Just Me

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #16 on: 31/01/2012 20:56:37 »
It would seem to me that a very simple solution to determine if there was any damage to the right side of the ship would be to have a submersible follow the exact path that the Concordia took to see if there is evidence of any rock formation that may have impacted the right side of the ship.

 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #17 on: 01/02/2012 01:47:22 »
There was a recent British TV Special (Ch4) on the Costa Concordia.
Terror at Sea, the Sinking of the Concordia.

Lots of footage and etc.  No real technical engineering details though.



They seem to indicate that the Costa Concordia had 7 full-width watertight compartments....  with the belief that 3 (one too many) were breached.

Somewhere the was a question about a double hull....  I'm not sure that is as necessary in cruise ships as tankers.  However, it would be reasonable to put a row of ballast tanks, or watertight storage compartments along the sides.  If one alternated storage and tall ballast tanks, perhaps it would even self compensate to some extent.  Rupturing from below might require a double-wall, with ballast or something in the lower compartment.

I'm sure there will be a long investigation.  The response of the crew appeared to be utterly incompetent. 

At some point, the local passengers contacted the shore, and local police were informed, who forwarded the information the the Italian coast guard.  The coast guard then initiated contact with the ship (rather than the ship initiating contact), and were informed that the Costa Concordia was experiencing a minor electrical problem.  No mention of hitting rocks and taking on water, or listing.  No request for emergency crews to stand by.  They failed to discuss with the coast guard emergency plans to return to a harbor that was clearly too small for the ship.

The film showed many passengers who had put on their life jackets and were congregating around the life boats, while the crew was telling them that the ship was experiencing a minor electrical problem, and trying to send them away. 

At the point where the ship reversed course (apparently a right-hand turn, so it shouldn't have caused the reverse list), they would have had to know that the ship was in serious do-do.  While not ordering an abandon ship, they should have started emergency preparations.

While the ship supposedly had adequate lifeboats, there wasn't adequate "extra" capacity in case some of the lifeboats failed.  What about rubber dinghies?  There were no lifeboats at the stern of the ship where it would have been easier to compensate for the list (assuming engines were cut off).

Life jackets were in the cabins, which might have been ok, however, extras should have been available in scattered locations in case some people didn't have their own accessible. 

The film seemed to indicate that the ship started severely listing towards the right side at the point where it was beached.  No explanation as to why.  More punctures with a second (intentional) beaching?  Anchors and actions by the crew?  Or perhaps it was just time.

These ships just look like a death trap.  They are lucky the number of people dead and missing is in the 30's.  It could have been much worse.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2012 01:49:21 by CliffordK »
 

Offline grizelda

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #18 on: 01/02/2012 03:39:28 »
This probably wouldn't have happened if they had just bought that expensive green tape for the windows from that nice man on the dock.
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #19 on: 06/02/2012 14:33:33 »
The reality is that compartmentalization and easy passenger flow are not compatible. To make a ship as safe as possible, it should be compartmented sufficiently, those compartments should go up to the main deck, and they top of each compartment should be watertight as well (this latter being the fatal flaw in Titanic's design). Watertight doors, obviously, allow access between compartments and to the deck. During an emergency they can be sealed.

Problem is this forces endless up and down movement for the passengers, and don't even think about such things as grand staircases and the like. Cruise lines have to try and strike a balance between these two realities. Some are better at it than others, but most all lean towards passenger comfort over safety, for obvious reasons.

If memory serves, the safest ship ever afloat, in the area of watertight compartments, was The Great Eastern, launched in 1858. Although much smaller than Titanic, she could carry 4000 passengers. She was a complete failure as a passenger liner!
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #20 on: 06/02/2012 15:30:06 »
The Costa Concordia had about 3000 passengers, and about 1000 crew & entertainment employees which is a pretty extraordinary percentage. 

I believe the lower decks were apparently primarily crew, and not as luxurious as the upper decks. 

The cabins (with heavy doors) should provide reasonably good compartmentalization, although I'd hate to be sleeping in a cabin and have a boulder like the one above appear in the wall.  or to get trapped on the wrong side of a bulkhead, although, as you mentioned, one could have a vertical escape from the bulkheads.

Deck Zero would have been the one below the water level, and doesn't seem to be on most of the maps.  However, it seems like the area below the water line is the part of the ship with the worst compartmentalization. 

One thing that also would be required is the ability to move water to where it is needed.  So, not only seal compartments, but allow passages to be opened if necessary to maintain balance.

Part of the emergency plan should be to move passengers to the upper decks, rather than telling them to return to their quarters.

Main passage doors could be hydraulic or spring loaded, and remain open most of the time.  Can doors slide rather than swinging?

Can the sinking be simulated with a large scale model?
 

Offline Gordian Knot

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #21 on: 06/02/2012 20:52:12 »
Cliff in response to your first post. Just because the hole was on the port side does not necessarily mean she would capsize to that side. Once a certain amount of water enters a ship, it becomes extremely unstable. At that point it gets very complicated which way it might lean, depending on what areas of the ship the water could get to and settle the most.
 

Offline RYBEEZY

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #22 on: 08/02/2012 16:45:25 »
Its already been stated as assumptions but it is true the ship tilt because of the huge 180degree turn he made with a damaged ship. that the captain(POS) hit the rock of the island because he was 150meters away from the island. Last time he did a 300meter drive by which is the closest you are allowed to go according to the official cruise course you are supposed to follow. I thought once the ship hit it began to sink. At that point complete evacuation should not have taken any more than thirty minutes which would have gave everyone an opportunity to get in a lifeboat and get to safety. Shoot, he hit the island people live on, why not just stay there for safety. The captain felt the need to keep the ship moving so he could get to the closest possible to the shore/dock as he could. He accomplished this with a extremely hard 180degree turn because he had no choice if you see how close that rock is the ship is leaning on. The ship tilt and captain said I'm outta here! Also said there isn't any way to get back on the ship because it was tilted at the time. Anyone who puts that many peoples life in danger for a "good show" is already out of their mind. Adding that he and his crew abandoned ship with people still on it along with catching a taxi ride without an emotion on his face makes it seem as if this guy really was not right in the head. House arrest? Really? He needs to be in jail with no bond until the court case. There is no explanation of his actions that could even make him look remotely innocent.

edit*
Under International Maritime Organization rules, captains are supposed to use the ship itself as a ‘lifeboat’ and return to port for evacuation.

Well this seems odd too me. What are lifeboats for then? Who is to know if you can make it to a port in enough time.

edit*
 A ship the size of the Costa Concordia is unable to float if water is less than 26ft deep – which explains why it so quickly turned on its side. But if it had sunk in deep water, hundreds could have died. This is just a theory but I'm sure a reasonable explanation.

« Last Edit: 08/02/2012 17:08:18 by RYBEEZY »
 

Offline RYBEEZY

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #23 on: 08/02/2012 20:21:32 »
It would seem to me that a very simple solution to determine if there was any damage to the right side of the ship would be to have a submersible follow the exact path that the Concordia took to see if there is evidence of any rock formation that may have impacted the right side of the ship.

All the rocks might be gone now, I think he did a pretty good job hitting it. I don't think a rock hit the right side of the ship. The island is on the left which he was too close too. All passengers who felt the crash informed that all plates and glasses were immeditly sliding in one direction only. There is fear that bad weather could force the rested ship to slide off the rock and completely sink. Luckily they said the storm seems to not be headed in that direction anymore. If the bottom of the ship is already touching the bottom on the sea, that is very close to the minimum 26 feet needed to float. However I would think if the ship hit the bottom it would have tilted a lot faster than it did. Even if the ship is on smooth ground, it couldn't of remained balanced for that long. If the ship can't float in water after the damage, there is no amount of water that would keep it up straight. I may be wrong but that rock looks like it would be under water from how low it is.

sorry for the double posts, I am just really behind you guys and girls. I spent all my time watching the passenger videos and the over hundred pictures that have been taken and shared. First time seeing something like this. A shipwreck as well as some of the crew bailing out. I hope not one person accepts Carnival/Costa's payment. What good does it do to impress people on an island. Impress the guests you have on board by keeping them safe. Seems he cared more about the island than he did his own passengers. That island must be pretty boring if they need to see a cruise liner pass by to impress them, and to have someone thank the cruise line for present pass byes. Get off that island and board a cruise if they like it so much.
« Last Edit: 08/02/2012 20:43:03 by RYBEEZY »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #24 on: 21/02/2012 06:42:10 »
There was a very good Discovery Channel documentary about the Costa Concordia tonight.

They answered my question, as what caused the list to the left (starboard), away from the hole.

Apparently the ship was powered by 6 diesel-electric generators, and two electric propulsion engines, all necessarily placed low in the ship, below the water line for stability/ballast.  The hull breach flooded all the engines.  It was not clear how the generators were positioned in the water compartments, but without side-to-side compartmentalization, all 6 generators were flooded, and quickly failed.  Main electrical control panels were also located below the water line.  Why?

After hitting bottom, Captain Schettino steered the ship OUT TO SEA.

At the point where the lights went out, the main generators had gone out, and the ship was adrift, continuing on its path, out to sea.

Remember, the crew was called by the Italian Coastguard, and told them that they had an electrical problem that they were dealing with.  Having lost every generator, and the ship being adrift, it should have prompted an IMMEDIATE CALL FOR ASSISTANCE. 

The ship was 1000 feet long, 100 feet tall above the water line.,

23 mile an hour wind gusts turned the ship, side-on to the wind, like a huge sail  (left, damaged side towards the wind).  The wind was what rolled the ship from left (port) to right (starboard).  And, again, with no crosswise compartmentalization to prevent it from rolling.

It wasn't Captain Schettino that steered the ship back to shore, but rather, the ship was pushed to shore by the wind.

Had the wind not pushed the ship to shore, or had pushed it out to sea, the disaster would have been much much worse.

They don't mention it in the film, but it was probably the wind that initially pushed the ship off course, and into the island.  Something the captain should have compensated for.  Or, perhaps stayed much further to sea with a 23 mph wind.  However, it was also the wind the likely saved almost all the passengers.  Without being pushed back to shore, there could have been perhaps 1000 more casualties. 

One last comment...

Why don't the lifeboats have wheeled or tracked crawlers that can crawl down the side of the ship, and maintain the life boat more or less level, and help propel it down the side?.  The lifeboats should be able to launch with a list up to....  say 100° (10° beyond horizontal), perhaps even more.
 

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Re: Did Costa Concordia sink the wrong way?
« Reply #24 on: 21/02/2012 06:42:10 »

 

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