Document Type

Article Open Access

Publication Date


Journal Title

WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs

Volume Number


Issue Number


First Page


Last Page



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.

Recommended Citation

Schröder-Hinrichs, J.-U., Hollnagel, E., & Baldauf, M. (2012). From Titanic to Costa Concordia — A Century of Lessons not Learned. WMU Journal of Maritime Affairs, 11(2), 151-167. doi:10.1007/s13437-012-0032-3