The recent crash of the Costa Concordia is generating a large amount of coverage and rightly so although I’d like to take a look at it from a different angle.
Let’s examine the critical thinking and decision making leading up to and after the accident. We don’t have a full picture yet so I’ll have make some suppositions which might well turn out to be inaccurate.
The main factor in steering the vessel close to share, and thus danger, seems to be that the tourists enjoyed the better view. A term called Tourist Navigation. Other cruise lines gained publicity and, presumably, higher capacity ratios at least partially because of said publicity. It appears to have been common practice to steer close to shore for this reason. The liners apparently encouraged or even pressured captains to do it. The decision was based on risk/reward, or more technically, risk-return spectrum. The risk being a grounding, deaths, etcs. The reward, more money.
Naturally the world universally condemns the practice but don’t well all engage in risk/reward behavior every day? Do we cross the street against the light, run the yellow too late, etc? We take our lives into our hands for minor gain. So, was the cruise line and the captain wrong to make this decision?
I’d say it’s their right to make the decision and most often it was the correct call, but they have to pay the consequences when the risk side of the equation hits.
Now, onto the captain who didn’t warn the passengers in time and left the vessel while people were still on board. Here are some decisions that I think are more obviously based on poor critical thinking skills.
In an emergency situation it is generally a good idea to go with safety first. My building at work recently had a water leak which set off the fire alarms. It was a pretty badly burst pipe and water was running down the stairwell but no one was in immediate danger of death. Nevertheless, the alarms went off and everyone was evacuated from the building. So, why did the captain choose to downplay the risk after the grounding, which, to be fair, he might not have understood was going to cause as much damage as it did?
He likely wanted to avoid embarrassment to the cruise line if it turned out to be a false alarm and not inconvenience the passengers. If he had taken time to consider the best case scenario, a few inconvenienced passengers and the worst case sceneario, largely what played out or even more disastrous, I think the decision is clear.
As for leaving the vessel early, well, I can only assign panic to that one. As the captain of the ship he knows his responsibility without question. I’m curious as to how he thought he could disembark before everyone was off. If he was panicked then I would hope one of the other officers would remind him of his duty. I’d like to hear what they did when the captain abandoned ship.
All, in all, a terrible tragedy but an opportunity to examine the critical thinking skills of those involved. Heartfelt sympathy for the families of those who lost loved ones and to those injured in the accident. Stay strong!
Tell me what you think.