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Costa on fire cruise ship has more 'flags' than a coronation started life as container ship

An earlier disaster remembered in Cobh, Ireland

Julian Bray, Cruise Industry Commentator writes: The MS Costa Allegra currently without power following a generator fire and 200 miles from the nearest landfall has an unusual history, starting life in 1969 as an Axel Johnson class container ship, five in the series were built. She was named MS Annie Johnson,  In 1986 sold on to Regency Cruises with the intention of being converted into a cruise ship, they even had a name ready the MS Regent Moon, but the vessel remained laid up until 1988 when she was sold and renamed MS Alexandria. It is fair to say that the ship has had more flags than at a  coronation vis: Sweden, Cyprus,Panama,Italy, Liberia and Italy

In 1990, the ship was acquired by a Costa Cruises subsidiary and extensively rebuilt as a cruise ship at the T. Mariotti shipyard in Genoa Italy and entered service in 1992. In 2010, she was chartered to a French operator Pacquet Cruises, and had according to sources only recently been taken back under the Costa brand.

As a container ship, she had berths for just 6 passengers but as a cruise ship after the refit she had berths for 820 lower berths and 1072 in all berths. The four generator units (all 6R46 Wartsila diesels)  later installed duing the cruise ship rebuild,  provide a combined power output of 19,123 kW, and this is where the current fire is believed to have started.

The current incident is to say the least very unfortunate and could well see the end of the Costa brand as the US owned parent Carnival considers it future in what is generally regarded as an  industry with overcapacity and a falling forward order book, due to world financial conditions, and an ever upward increasing spiral of fuel costs.       

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Costa Cruise Ship on Fire, drifting 200 miles from land

Costa Allegra, without power  following generator plant fire.
Cruise Industry Commentator Julian Bray reports:

ROME Monday 27th February 2012 – A fire has broken out in the generator plant area of a 20 year old Italian cruise ship, leaving it without engines and electric power, 200 miles adrift off the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, assistance in the form of sea going tugs, fishing boats and support craft are due to reach the stricken liner by midnight tonight (Monday).

The incident aboard the Costa Allegra, happened six weeks after the Concordia, another Italian cruise ship owned by the same company, capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing, presumed dead.

Asked about Monday's Costa Allegra accident, Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro told local Television News, that the ship's captain reported to Italian authorities, the blaze was quickly extinguished. the fire however left the cruise liner "without propulsion," leaving the ship, with 636 passengers and 413 crew members aboard, adrift at sea. The ship is expected to drop several sea anchors and await ocean-going tug assistance (around midnight).

Costa Crociere SpA, (Costa Cruises) based in Genoa, Italy, said in a statement that its cruise ship was lying about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, one of the atolls in the Seychelles.

In addition to ocean going tugs, officials said coastguard ships and an aircraft were being despatched to the disabled ship.

The cruise company said that a general emergency alarm was "promptly sounded" as a precaution, and that passengers and crew not involved in the emergency, assembled at the appropriate muster stations. They did not abandon ship.

The Allegra was built in Italy in 1992, the vessel is 615 feet long with eight passenger decks and 399 staterooms.

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Madness as commercial airline pilots allowed to fly 22 hours at a stint...

Not even WW2 pilots flew for 22 hours non stop!

Julian Bray Aviation commentator says: Some truly dangerous madness is being concocted by the EU and it involves every single air traveller and air crew in the UK and Europe.   The House of Commons Transport Select Committee is examining new EU pilot fatigue rules which could legally allow pilots to land their aircraft 22 hours after they woke for the day. But the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK regulator for flight safety, has said they have no problem with the rules.  This  comes exactly three years after an air disaster in Buffalo, NY, which was partly due to pilot fatigue. In the US, that crash brought about a toughening up of pilot fatigue rules, but here in Europe, we’re heading in exactly the opposite direction.

 Jim McAuslan of BALPA said: ’22 hours of wakefulness is far from the only part of the proposals which give us serious concern. Compared to the UK’s domestic rules, the EU proposals would see pilots being able to fly further – as far as California – with no back-up crew and, contrary to scientific advice, allow pilots to do up to seven early starts in a row, which is desperately fatiguing.

 ‘We have met with the CAA to try and get them to realise the dangers of what is being proposed here, but they seem intent on supporting this European scheme. We need the Government to say it won’t support this danger to public safety, and will demand that we either get the proposals to a much safer position, or retain our own domestic rules.

 ‘The Government has to answer this question: “Is it safe to land an aircraft after 22 hours?” If not, they need to reject these EU proposals now and keep the current UK rules in place until they have been significantly improved’


2.       22 hours awake is achieved used the following method:.

For a two pilot, two flight day the very maximum Flight Duty Period is 20 hours under the EASA proposals and 16.25 hours under the existing UK rules known as CAP371.

The reality of the EASA proposals is that a pilot could wake at 5.00 am, report for ‘airport standby’ at 7.00 am, fly at 11.00 am and land and park the aircraft at the end of the FDP at 3.00 am the following day.

He or she would then go to the crew room to complete their duty period by 3.30 am and either go to a hotel or find their way home. This means that pilots could be landing their aircraft after having been awake for 22 hours.

3. Flying further with no back-up crew is due to lower restrictions on two-crew operations. In this way, whereas very long-haul flights such as to the West Coast of the USA need to be undertaken by three pilots so that each can get some rest and be alert for the landing, this restriction will be lifted under the proposed rules.

4. Currently pilots are restricted in the number of early starts they may to do in a row. Currently, this limit is set at three which conforms to scientific recommendations. The proposals would lift that restriction to seven in a row, which is unscientific and unsafe.

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5


Fred Olsen Goes for Gold .....

Passengers hoping to enjoy a cruise on Fred Olsens elderly Braemar cruise ship this Summer, are in for a shock. Those who have already booked and paid, are being discreetly sent letters suggesting the ship is urgently needed elsewhere.

In fact, all the passengers during the run up to, and during the London Olympics are in the process of being bumped! Fred Olsen has found a better berth, with the saintly, slightly careworn, old lady being parked up near to the East London Olympic Village and used as a floating dormitory during the London Olympic Games.

Other cruise ships are expected to join the Braemar, the industry is currently over capacity and bookings generally are below marketing expectations, due to continuing consumer nervousness over their own financial prospects and the fall out from the Costa Concordia wreck...

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Looney Tunes on Costa Concordia Recovery Plans

RMS Titanic was 100 years ago....

Weekend press speculation that the Costa Concordia will be floated by placing a series of deflated airbags underneath the wreck, and then inflating them has been questioned by cruise industry commentator Julian Bray from the UK.

Bray points out in a new presentation to a marine business think tank, that the centre of gravity of modern cruise ships (the Costa Concordia was launched in September 2005) is set at around Decks three/four boat deck level which has clear access points from side to side of the submerged structure. 

The current positioning of the wreck resting on a rock ledge or outcrop means that the bags could only be inflated against the lightweight upper decks (the Costa Concordia was launched in September 2005), and the superstructure of the Costa Concordia above the current waterline is made of lightweight materials such as aluminium, plastics, and fibreglass compounds.

The upper decks, and superstructure clearly not designed to be substantially lateral load bearing. By simply pumping out fuel oil, and making a few compartments watertight, Julian Bray suggests will be an astronomically expensive proposition with little chance of being successful, and will only marginally shift the centre of gravity from the upturned base as cruise ships unlike cargo vessels, do not have wide open spaces inside the hull to take flotation bags.

However learning lessons from another Italian landmark, the righting of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, successfully completed by British engineers using a cantilever principle.   Bray is suggesting the retro fitting, in sections, of a series of initially near upright outrigger box section beams welded to and, projecting from side to side of the existing floor pan of deck four, and when fully constructed in sections by crane barges, the cantilevers, eventually towering some five times above the width of the ship. 

Using gravity and the series of outrigger beams as giant cantilevers, and having buoyancy tanks fitted the length of the topside of the projecting upright beams; as the outrigger beam cantilevers are lowered into the sea, as the result of  gravity assisted by weights (loads) plus cables connected to anchored winches, and weight added, piece by piece, to the upperside of the serie of cantilevers, (the cables being clamped to the tip of the outrigger beam cantilevers), the wreck can be returned to the uipright position and the centre of gravity literally exported or moved from within the hull of the wreck and spread to the whole area of the now sea facing level array of horizontal buoyancy supported beams.

Further Weight (loads) would then be applied to the uppersides, in effect a giant cantilever operation, and before complete removal further bouayncy aids attached to the projecting box section beams

Clearly the fixing points for the beams would have to be retro welded/clamped in place but that would be the only substantial retrofitting physically on the wreck, thus minimising the possibility of the wreck moving off its existing perch. In effect the whole recovery process and fixtures could be manufactured, possibly in the Fincantieri Italian Shipyard, where they will have all the original computer modelling for the Concordia Class of cruise ships.

The gash in the side of the wreck would be covered and secured by a custom made sectioned Kevlar skin which would externally mimic in engineering terms, the current buckled and misshapen hull section, and held in place by industrial fixatives and pressure pumped in buoyancy materials behind the skin.    © Julian Bray 2012            

Media comment with attributuion welcome, design sketches available

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5
Trevor Kavanagh is a true gentleman of Fleet Street, mark his words well. If Kavanagh is this angry, our politicians should now urgently start looking in all their closets for skeletons.....  


Print News

Witch-hunt has put us behind
ex-Soviet states
on Press freedom

The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh on
the biggest police operation
in British criminal history

Newsroom ... The Sun
Newsroom ... The Sun
THE Sun is not a "swamp" that needs draining.
Nor are those other great News International titles, The Times and The Sunday Times.
Yet in what would at any other time cause uproar in Parliament and among civil liberty and human rights campaigners, its journalists are being treated like members of an organised crime gang.
They are subjects of the biggest police operation in British criminal history — bigger even than the Pan Am Lockerbie murder probe.

Major crime investigations are on hold as 171 police are drafted in to run three separate operations.
In one raid, two officers revealed they had been pulled off an elite 11-man anti-terror squad trying to protect the Olympics from a mass suicide attack.

Instead of being called in for questioning, 30 journalists have been needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids, arrested and held in police cells while their homes are ransacked.


Wives and children have been humiliated as up to 20 officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents.
It is important that we do not jump to conclusions.

Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted.

Yet all are now on open-ended police bail, their lives disrupted and their careers on hold and potentially ruined.

Is it any surprise that Britain has dropped nine places to 28th, behind ex-Soviet bloc states Poland, Estonia and Slovakia, in the international Freedom of Speech league table?

So when the police get matters so far out of proportion, we are entitled to ask: Who polices the police?
Why should questions about police procedures be handled solely by the so-called Independent Police
Complaints Commission, which is notoriously reluctant to rule against police?

This inquiry has even begun to disturb those of our critics who have been at least partly responsible for what many see as a "witch-hunt".

The Guardian has raised questions about freedom of the Press. Its media analyst, Steve Hewlett, says that when it comes to paying for stories, no newspaper — "tabloid or otherwise" — is exempt.

Yet in a quite extraordinary assumption of power, police are able to impose conditions not unlike those applied to suspected terrorists.

Under the draconian terms of police bail, many journalists are barred from speaking to each other. They are treated like threats to national security. And there is no end in sight to their ordeal.

Their alleged crimes? To act as journalists have acted on all newspapers through the ages, unearthing stories that shape our lives, often obstructed by those who prefer to operate behind closed doors.
These stories sometimes involve whistleblowers. Sometimes money changes hands. This has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed, here and abroad.

There is nothing disreputable about it. And, as far as we know at this point, nothing illegal.

Without good sources no newspaper could uncover scandals in the public interest.
Certainly, the world would never have learned about the expenses scandal that landed so many politicians in jail.

Which brings us to a sensitive domestic issue within the News International "family" which we cannot ignore.


It is absolutely right the company co-operates with police on inquiries ranging from phone and computer hacking to illegal payments.

We are right to hand over any evidence — emails, expense claims, memos — that might aid those inquiries.

It is right that those inquiries are carried out separately from the journalists under investigation. Nobody on The Sun was aware in advance that ten colleagues were about to be nabbed.

It is also important our parent company, News Corp, protects its reputation in the United States and the interests of its shareholders. But some of the greatest legends in Fleet Street have been held, at least on the basis of evidence so far revealed, for simply doing their jobs as journalists on behalf of the company.

Meanwhile, a huge operation driven by politicians threatens the very foundations of a free Press.
We have three separate police inquiries — Elveden, Weeting and Tuleta.

There is a Parliamentary inquiry and of course the free-ranging Leveson Inquiry into newspaper practices.

The field is open to almost anyone with a grievance to deliver their two cents' worth, even touching unrelated issues such as Page Three.

The process, costing tens of millions of pounds, threatens to roll on for at least another year and probably two.

Interestingly, nothing on this scale is envisaged for the banking industry which has brought the nation to the brink of bankruptcy.

Before it is too late, should we not be asking where all this is likely to lead? Will we have a better


Or a Press that has been bullied by politicians into delivering what they, not the readers, think fit?

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5

Costa Concordia Wreck to be Patched Up and Refloated ....

The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship is to be refloated and removed in one piece says Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Italian Civil Protection Authority. Residents on the island of Giglio were concerned that the wreck could damage this years holiday trade and put off 'high rollers' who park their yachts where the wreck is currently sited.

Dutch salavagers SMIT have already submitted plans which involves a custom made metal skin patch being welded or clamped to the gaping hole in the hull. The refloating would be attempted after 500,000 gallons of gasoil had first been removed. Internal bouyancy vynil liner bags would be inflated inside the hull and an external floatation jacket would envelope the outside of the structure. The final part of the operation would be to lift the whole wreck onto a submersible pontoon platform, and then float it away either for dismantling or refurbishment.

How it should be done...Lifeboat drill onboard a Royal Caribbean Ship Independence of the Seas, although they have now dropped the requirement of physically wearing your lifevest at the compulsory muster

The latter is an unlikely prospect as the wreck is still regarded as a maritime grave site.  The owners Carnival /Costa Cruises suggest that 10 savage companies have already been approached and that a contract will be issued in March. The removal operation is estimated to take at least 10 months.

Julian Bray Cruise Industry Expert adds:  The statement that the owners Costa Cruises will award the salvage contract is highly unusual, as by this time following such an incident, the owners would normally pass ownership to their insurers, and the insurers would then either arrange recovery or decide the fate of the wreck. Clearly public interest and worldwide publicity with its knock on effect on the cruise industry as a whole, has prompted the owners not to part with the wreck and therefore lose control of the eventual disposal of the wreck.

The ship is unlikely to  carry passengers again although components from the wreck may be refurbished and reused elsewhere. When the RMS Titanic sank 100 years ago, the recovered lifeboats, had their RMS Titanic nameplates immediately removed and the life boats were put back into service on other White Star Line ships within weeks.

Contributor: Media, Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster Julian Bray UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (B'cast ISDN Remote Studio) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5



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