What happened to the Costa Concordia revealed by AIS
NOTE: if you go to the Log of Wendaway this story will make more sense, because it has a live map of the last moments of the doomed ship. I cannot figure out how to get the photos here. It is different these days.
CNN quotes an Italian Coast Guard official as saying the captain might have intentionally grounded the luxury passenger liner Costa Concordia because of some undisclosed emergency. Undisclosed because the captain never issued a MAYDAY call.
"At the moment we can't exclude that the ship had some kind of technical problem, and for this reason moved towards the coast in order to save the passengers, the crew and the ship. But they didn't send a mayday. The ship got in contact with us once the evacuation procedures were already ongoing," Del Santo said.
But a remarkable website, MarineTraffic.com, allows you to search for any registered AIS-using ship on the globe. So when you search for the Costa Concordia , it bring up a list of facts about it, and a Google Map showing its exact route.
Smack - right up against Isola del Giglio, an island offshore the Tuscan coast.
You can also see that the Costa Concordia was traveling at 11 knots at the time of the accident.
In other words, the ship wasdriven right up on the rocks, even though the track shows that at the last minute it tried to maneuver away.
It show how AIS functions in many of the same ways as do the black box and cockpit recorder on passenger planes .
My friend Alan Mairson read this article and posted this comment on Facebook: "Interesting, but I don't understand something: The Italian Coast Guard official says the captain may have intentionally grounded the ship due to unspecified emergency; and the data says that's exactly what happened. What's the disconnect? I mean, other than running a ship into rocks at 11 knots isn't what my dad (who captained our 30-foot sloop for many years) would call a 'smart maneuver'."
Or the obverse fits just as nicely: it was not an intentional grounding at all; no one knew exactly where the ship was. It was grounded all right, unintentionally.
My thanks to John Konrad, a colleague of mine at NowPublic.com who went off to start QCaptain.com, a terrific resource for the merchant marine and others interested in all things oceanic.