Marine forensics investigation in the Costa Concordia and other shipwrecks

Jan 18, 2012


Marine Forensic Process Questions


Regardless of whether it is a recent wreck investigated by the national authorities or an old ship being studied by amateurs, the Marine Forensic Process has the same elements:


A. Determine How the Ship was Constructed

– Design rules in force at delivery – IMO and RINA

1. Use of longitudinal bulkheads in passenger ships (lists, raking damage)

– General Arrangement plans of the vessel,

– Structural plans

1. Continuity of structure

– Machinery plans

1.  Separation and location of machinery and electrical spaces.

2.  Component permeability

– Tankage plans plus data

–  Lines plan

–  Lifeboats

1. Design has not changed much in 100 years

2. Location

3. Crew (are there enough to man with reduced crew mentality)

4. Simplified Evacuation Plan for ships

– Securing of the furnishings.

B.  Establish Departure Condition

–  What was the documented liquid loading of Concordia prior to the incident?

– The condition of the tankage upon departure (possible free-surface effects)

– What were the stores loading prior to sailing?

– Drafts fore and aft, list and trim

– What was the vessel’s GM and location of KG at time of sailing (Trim and

Stability  Booklet)?

–       Where were the loading instructions of the vessel and were they followed?

C.  Voyage Conditions

– Were there any propulsion, electrical, or auxiliaries systems or components that

were non-functional before the incident?

– Weather and current conditions

–  Geological analysis of rock imbedded in ship (igneous, metamorphic,


– Type of and contents of the navigation system

1. Contour of seabed where ship rests (Accuracy of charts)

2. Global Positioning System (GPS)

D. Establish the Incident Timeline.

– Was the ship accelerating it speed in area of collision (squat phenomenon)?

– Survivor testimony (especially technical crew members)

– Black Box recovery (modern vessels are required to carry these)

–  Damage control team (if it existed) actions

–  A full survey of the vessel to determine the damage – port and starboard

1. Need to sort out initial damage, hitting bottom-after-capsize damage,

salvage and  rescue cuts, and follow on damage due to wind/tides

E. Analysis and report

– Access to start-of-art analysis tools

– Access to specialist experts

– Prepare report

– Recommend changes to design process, rules or operating procedures



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