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Damage stability of cruise ships - evidence and conjecture

Vassalos, Dracos (2015) Damage stability of cruise ships - evidence and conjecture. In: STAB2015: 12th International Conference on the Stability of Ships and Ocean Vehicles. STAB2015 Secretariat, Glasgow, pp. 1185-1196.

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    This paper delves into damage stability legislation as it applies to passenger ships. The Concordia accident, like many others before it, has shaken the maritime profession once again with many questions being asked without being able to provide credible answers. Old ships have been designed to lower standards (it is common knowledge that new ships are safer than old ships, with the latter comprising the majority of the population), new standards are holistic and goal-based offering knowledge of the standard these ships are designed to, which is not true for old ships, emergency response is an altogether different science in modern ships and many others. Notwithstanding this state of affairs, there is another more fundamental weakness in the regulations for damage stability, perhaps at the heart of most problems with cruise ships safety, old and new. A critical review into damage stability legislation, as it applies to passenger ships, offers compelling evidence that cruise ship characteristics and behaviour have not been accounted for in the derivation of relevant damage stability rules. As a result, the regulatory instruments for damage stability currently in place do not provide the right measure of damage stability for cruise ships and, even more worryingly, the right guidance for design improvement. This leads to a precarious situation where cruise ships are underrated when it comes to assigning a damage stability standard whilst depriving designers of appropriate legislative instruments to nurture continuous improvement. Documented evidence is being presented and the ensuing results and impact discussed. Recommendations are given for a way forward.