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    Re: Chart of the area where the italian cruise went down
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2012 Jan 15, 18:15 -0800

    Thanks for the link, Andrew.

    One thing you'll notice in this chart and the others that have been posted is that this island, like most in the Mediterranean, has very steep sides. If the vessel had stayed a quarter mile off the coast, it would have been in very deep, safe waters. Latest reports confirm that the captain sailed in close to the island intentionally, very likely to get a nice view of the port and town. The death toll is far lower than it could have been thanks to one of his last decisions: to beach the ship. But people have died, and a half billion dollar ship is a total loss. His career is over, and he may well go to prison for his poor judgement.

    It's interesting seeing how opinions on accidents form in the first days after an accident in the news media and on maritime-interest web sites. There are various "poles" toward which theories gravitate. Some observers are convinced that 'human error' is always the scapegoat, and they therefore gravitate towards the "hardware failure" solution. In this case, there were a number of news articles that picked up on the story of electrical problems and speculated that this was the cause of the accident rather than an effect. Some observers of accidents gravitate towards the systems solution: the "man-machine interface" solution. These folks worry that mariners become too entranced with their computer displays and lose situational awareness. Or they trust the machines and become more generally ineffective. And it's probably less common in public statements, but some people gravitate towards the "human error" solution. In this case, that appears to be the case. Of course, the captain is not alone on the bridge. Did no one speak up? Did the other crew have too much faith in their captain? Had the weekly voyage become so routine that no one could think the unthinkable?

    -FER

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