From Titanic to Costa Concordia—a century of lessons not learnedReport as inadecuate

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WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 151–167

First Online: 04 September 2012Received: 19 June 2012Accepted: 15 August 2012


The recent foundering of the Costa Concordia in January 2012 demonstrated that accidents can occur even with ships that are considered masterpieces of modern technology and despite more than 100 years of regulatory and technological progress in maritime safety. The purpose of this paper is, however, not to speculate about the concrete causes of the Costa Concordia accident, but rather to consider some human and organizational factors that were present in the Costa Concordia accident as well as in the foundering of the Titanic a century ago, and which can be found in many other maritime accidents over the years. The paper argues that these factors do not work in isolation but in combination and often together with other underlying factors. The paper critically reviews the focus of maritime accident investigations and points out that these factors do not receive sufficient attention. It is argued that the widespread confidence in the efficacy of new or improved technical regulations, that characterizes the recommendations from most maritime accident investigations, has led to a lack of awareness of complex interactions of factors and components in socio-technical systems. If maritime safety is to be sustainably improved, a systemic focus must be adopted in future accident investigations.

KeywordsMaritime human factors Accident causation Maritime accident investigation Maritime safety Socio-technical systems Titanic Costa Concordia  Download fulltext PDF

Author: Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs - Erik Hollnagel - Michael Baldauf


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