in a trouble snare in UK!
Rumor, or Fowl?
On the 25th of May, MCA (which is the UK’s Maritime Compliance Authority, akin to our own US Coast Guard) Inspectors from the Southampton Marine Office visited the cruise ship MSC “OPERA” upon its arrival at the Port of Southampton to undertake a routine Port State Control Inspection.
It is from this point forward; that the great debate as to what really happened begins to take place, largely depending on just who is doing the telling. An MCA’s spokesperson did release a statement during that first day stating as a “consequence” of the routine inspection conducted on the 25th May of the MSC Opera that the MCA decided that it was necessary to detain the vessel in Southampton until such time as the owners were able to demonstrate compliance. MCA Inspectors made a number of follow-up visits to the ship to assess progress although the ship continued to be detained at the end of the first day. At some later point in time, an MCA spokeswoman said various defects had been found during the routine port state control inspection but the vessel’s owners had been given a solution that allowed them to meet the agency’s requirements.
What does appear to be evident is that the MSC Opera was in Southampton port for the better part of three days, before she actually sailed out (late for its scheduled departure) on the 27thof May and the reports of what actually occurred begin their volley. James Walker‘s website (who is a maritime attorney) reported that the ship was in fact detained by UK Maritime Authorities. He further offers a link (see comments section of article) to the actual inspection report supposed deficiencies, findings, and actions taken by the MCA, in his article. You can view his article by (clicking here).
Gene Sloan (Travel Writer) with USA Today also reported (see article searches here) that the Opera was detained after it arrived in Southampton on May 25th coming from a shipyard where it had undergone repairs after losing power in the Baltic Sea, which left it adrift for several days until it was towed back to port. During that ordeal “Passengers described uncomfortable conditions during the incident that included blackouts, a lack of hot food and running water, and backed-up toilets.” What is remarkable about the USA Today article is that it reported that when news of the detention in Southampton first broke, (on Wednesday the 25th), MSC Cruises reportedly informed media outlets (including USA Today) that it was just “a rumor.” (Later in the day, on Friday the 27th) after the ship had been cleared to sail, MSC Cruise Line “issued a short statement that appeared carefully crafted to leave the impression that there had been no issues with the vessel”. The statement also made no mention of the detention by maritime authorities.” The Statement from MSC Read ….. “MSC Cruises is delighted to announce that MSC Opera left Southampton today to begin her eight-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. Docked at the port of Southampton since May 25, MSC Opera was visited, as per standard procedure, by Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) staff and released as fully compliant with International maritime safety regulations”.
Even more disconcerting than the original (apparent) failure of MSC to measure up to International Maritime Standards, (as there are multitudes of viable rationales for ships to be found outside of compliance all day, everyday, especially when coming directly from repairs). What’s even worse in this case is the appearance of a possible cover-up, by MSC Cruises. This will certainly end up hurting MSC’s credibility far more seriously, than merely admitting to a failed inspection, and now being compliant. From my standpoint as a provider of cruise products and services to the public, I am left with many concerns, and question the actions and motives of MSC officials with respect to this recent occurrence. Additionally, the after effects of this will most definitely impact upon my ability to recommend MSC as a viable product with such a cloud which seems to prevail from this entire incident. While I am often labeled as pro-cruise by the media, I am most definitely pro-safety as far as the cruising public is concerned! MSC would be far better off, to own-up to any shortcomings, and deal more transparently with their media relations, and honestly inform the public as to what really happened in Southampton! What do you say MSC?
For more information on The “MSC OPERA” incident, feel free to contact Mike via email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can tweet Mike at http://www.twitter.com/cruisewithmike . You can follow Mike on face book at http://www.facebook.com/cruisewithmike . To “Join” our Travel Club go to http://meetup.com/Sun-Cities-Travelers-Group/ Mikes web site can be found at www.mberryhill.cruiseholidays.com . Follow Mike’s blog (or subscribe to it) at http://www.cruisewithmike.com (or merely click on the subscribe button above to have daily delivery to your email). View all of Mikes uploaded Flickr Photo Galleries at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cruisewithmike/ . Mike also edits his own twice daily e-newspaper called “The Compass Headings” you can see (or subscribe to) it free! at http://paper.li/CruisewithMike
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