Council Says Islands Prepared For Costa Concordia-Type Incident

The Costa Concordia

The Council has said the Isles of Scily could cope with a large cruise ship incident, following the Costa Concordia disaster off the island of Giglia in Italy last weekend.

Scilly is now the top cruise ship destination in the Southwest and welcomed 38 ships to its waters last year.

Rhona Holland, Emergency Planning Lead for the Council says they have a wide range of contingency plans in place and have undertaken a range of exercises configured around scenarios of shipping in distress.

And Rhona says it’s happened for real here already.

In 1997, a large cruise liner, the Albatross, was holed as she was leaving St Mary’s Roads, on Bartholomew’s Ledge, creating a 200ft gash on the starboard side and causing the vessel to list.

The Council was praised at the time for the quality of its response, allowing the smooth evacuation of 550 elderly German passengers and 480 mainly Filipino deck crew, while simultaneously stabilising the condition of the ship.

Harbourmaster Dale Clark says an incident on the scale of Costa Concordia would require the assistance of other marine operators and, in such an emergency, he would contact the relevant emergency services and also the Land Steward, who would activate the Duchy of Cornwall Core Crisis Team leaving the Harbour team to provide on scene response.

In conjunction with the emergency services, Dale would initially be responsible for co-coordinating the marine support for the response effort.

The Land Steward would contact the Chief Executive of the Council to activate the Isles of Scilly Emergency Response Plan.

Dale says that, while he can understand that the Concordia incident may spark questions as to how we would respond if such an event happened within our waters, there are measures already in place to avoid this.

He says as the Competent Harbour Authority, they provide a pilotage service for the Isles of Scilly (a 5 mile radius from the Southern tip of Samson) and have strict pilotage procedures followed by vessels navigating here, including providing an experienced, licensed pilot aboard the vessel to assist them in navigating to their anchorage area safely.

The Island of Giglia bears many similarities with Scilly, being one of an archipelago of islands roughly 16km from the mainland and with a population of around 1500 people.


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