M/S Costa Concordia incidents January 13-14, 2012 caused by ship not being seaworthy - Part 4

Voyage and Bridge Voice Data Recorders - analysis delayed until October 15, 2012 - when no voyage data at all was reported! It appears the Voyage Data recorder was deactivated prior the contact incident and only Voice recordings are available


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Wikipedia does not mention anything about the ship's Voyage and Bridge Voice Data Recorders. You should really wonder why.

I assumed ship's Voyage and Bridge Voice Data Recorders recording important data aboard and on bridge should confirm that the contact was an accident and that the capsize/sinking three hours later were due to progressive flooding through open watertight doors.

It appears that all the data from the VDR was retained before and after the contact 21.45 hrs, capsize 00.20 hrs and sinking 00.32 hrs. According to Fairplay, a reported fault was just an error code relating to the external capsule. Therefore all the data - at least 4 hours - should be available on the removable hard drive in the VDR itself. Apparently the system on the Costa Concordia in fact had two hard drives, one holding details of the last 24 hours and one the previous 30 days, and the equipment was mounted on the Bridge.

Here's what the VDR system records:

• Speed log – Speed through water or speed over ground (before and after the first contact, capsize and final sinking!)

• Gyro compass – Heading (before and after the contact!)

• Radar (it gives ship's position at any time and before and after the contact, capsize and final sinking!)

Audio (voice) from the bridge, including bridge wings.

• VHF radio communications.

• Echo sounder – Depth under keel.

• Main alarms – All IMO mandatory alarms, incl. bilge alarms (so Master knows what watertight compartments are flooded or dry!)

• Hull openings – Status of hull doors as indicated on the bridge.

Watertight & fire doors status as indicated on the bridge (so Master knows all watertight doors are closed!)

• Hull stress – Accelerations and hull stresses (from the ship's loading computer, apparently not working after black-out, due to not being connected to the emergency electric supply).

Rudder – Order and feedback response.

• Engine/Propeller – Order and feedback response.

• Thrusters – Status, direction, amount of thrust % or RPM (maybe they were used to push vessel on the shore?).

• Anemometer and weather vane – Wind speed and direction

Early March 2012 judge Valeria Montesarchio at Grosetto, Italy, appointed experts (Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, commander of the Naval Academy of Livorno, Admiral of port Francesco Carpinteri, Professor Enzo from Pisa and Professor Mario Master of the University of Trieste) to look at and interpret the VDR data, the result of which should be presented on 21 July, 2012. On 21 July 2012, the Pre-Trial was adjourned until October 15th. Judge Valeria Montesarchio confirmed at a courthouse in Grosseto, central Italy that problems analyzing the "black box" (Voyage Data Recorder - VDR) caused an adjournment of the pre-trial hearing until October 15th, 2012.

A person by name Bruno Neri has confirmed the VDR data includes the watertight & fire doors status. If actually watertight doors were fitted, they were probably not permitted by SOLAS ... and caused the progressive flooding, capsize and sinking. Imagine that! A design fault causing a capsize killing people. Who is responsible for that? Schettino?

In order for the watertight door indication to work it must evidently be supplied both via normal and emergency electric supply. Was it?

Schettino told prosecutors after the incident that the VDR had not been working properly for two weeks before the Costa Concordia hit a charted (!) rock at speed on the island of Giglio. How did he know that? Did he report the fault to the ship owner? And what was done to repair the fault?

On October 15 2012 no Voyage/voice Data Recordings at all were presented by the Grosetto court. So no data of speed, course, rudders, etc. before, during and after the contact were provided. Instead some voice recordings of unknown origin from the bridge were played behind closed doors indicating that a helmsman was steering the ship and that, after the contact that surprised everybody, Schettino ordered the helmsman to change course one way and another officer ordered the helmsman to change course another way. Or this is a better description? It is thus clear that vessel was steered manually, apparently close to shore, but it is still unclear what anybody could see outside in the dark or why nobody alerted Schettino that vessel was getting too close to shore, etc. Schettino also ordered watertight doors to be closed after the contact, suggesting (i) that vessel had watertight doors and (ii) that the watertight doors were open at sea. If and when the open watertight doors were actually closed remains unclear.  

During 2013 it was found out that the VDR was deactivated for 239 seconds during the alleged planned turn close to Isola del Giglio. Why the VDR was deactivated is not known 2015 (or 2017) and nobody seems to be bothered about it.

So what happened after, e.g. 21:36:45 hrs is not recorded!

Isn't it strange that 4 hours of VDR data of three incidents - contact, capsize and sinking - has just disappeared.

Go to Part 5.

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