People look at the stricken Carnival Corp Costa Cruises ship .

The media has jumped on the bandwagon to create as much commotion as possible and thus hide the key issues in this tragedy. Captain Schettino is now accused by the vox populi of abandoning ship. I do not believe this is so. The captain left the bridge when the ship was listing at such an angle that it was almost impossible to move within its confines. At that point, more than 90% of the people aboard (passengers and crew) had been evacuated. The listing finally reached an angle of about 70 degrees. I believe Captain Schettino was much more effective commanding operations from a launch, than from a semi-capsized vessel. The real culprits (the ship builders and the cruise line management) will now try to destroy Captain Schettino to hide their own ineptitudes. I believe this is the reason for the smear campaign against the ship’s captain. The real issue in this tragedy, however, is faulty hull design.

I was on the Queen Victoria last year…Trans-Atlantic in January from Southampton to New York.  If the Concordia incident had happened aboard the QV in the rough seas we faced on the crossing – a Cunard Line (Carnival owned) Queen Victoria disaster would have made the Titanic look like child’s play.

The Costa Concordia disaster must serve as a warning. If the hull of a modern cruise ship (especially the megaships) is damaged, the ship runs the risk of quickly losing stability and capsizing. If this happens to one of the megaships in the high seas, we will not have 30 or so casualties, as with the Costa Concordia, we will have hundreds or possibly even thousands who will be trapped aboard the capsized vessel.
This issue must be addressed immediately. The hull designs of the cruise ships now being built must be revised. The hulls of existing cruise ships must be improved.

Recent update:  The captain of Carnival Corp’s Costa Concordia slowed the ship down so that he could enjoy dinner with a Moldovan ex-dancer and then speeded up as he approached the island of Giglio in order to make up time, prosecutors alleged today.

Problems lowering the lifeboats taken by Spanish passenger.  In high seas this would have been manslaughter when thousands would have been trapped aboard.

By the time the luxury liner came close to Giglio it was traveling at 16 knots, despite being in shallow water and dangerously near to the island’s rocky shore.

Several passengers have said they witnessed Capt Francesco Schettino having dinner on the night of the disaster with Domnica Cemortan, a blonde Moldovan who had worked as a passenger rep on the ship and as a dancer on other cruise vessels.

Passengers had to crawl down side of ship to get off.  Imagine this happening in high seas.

The captain “slowed down the ship so that he could finish dinner in peace”, just prior to sailing close to Giglio in order to perform a ‘salute’ to an old colleague on the island, prosecutors alleged in a report.

He then ordered the ship’s speed to be increased to 16 knots “despite the proximity of obstacles, the presence of shallow water, the conditions under which the ship had to maneuver and the night-time darkness,” prosecutors charged.

As a result of the increased speed he was unable to maintain “an adequate distance” between the ship and the island.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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