Evacuation of ships: Discovering the mishaps behind the casualties

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Article Open Access

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Journal of International Maritime Safety, Environmental Affairs, and Shipping

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Safety of crew and passengers has always been a very critical issue for the shipping industry. At the beginning of the previous century, the tragic event of RMS Titanic sinking, can be considered as the triggering event for the introduction of the main regulatory intervention by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in terms of safety: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Since that point in time, with the aim to improve the procedures followed during a ship evacuation situation, numerous regulations have been adopted. Unfortunately, especially in relation to large passenger vessels and cruise ships, abandonment procedures remain today largely inefficient; in numerous occasions, an abandon ship situation has resulted into fatalities that were somehow considered avoidable, with the case of Costa Concordia standing out as an example. This paper is attempting to identify the main reasons and conditions behind the mishaps during the evacuation of modern passenger/cruise vessels. The purpose is to provide an understanding and shed light to the inefficiencies existing in the currently followed procedures. Furthermore, the psychological impact that is caused to passengers and crew in chaotic and life-threatening conditions, as the aforementioned situation, is discussed.