A ship science expert, Professor Ajit Shenoi, says that a seafaring tragedy on the scale of the Titanic disaster is unlikely to happen again.
Professor Shenoi, who is the Director of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, believes this is due to the many lessons that have been learned as a result of the tragedy 100 years ago.
"A detailed Board of Trade inquiry set up after the tragedy identified that the reasons behind the Titanic's sinking and the huge loss of life could be categorised under two headings," Professor Shenoi explains. "Firstly, they relate to crew training and capabilities, as well as better communications and management on board ships, with clear allocations of responsibilities and regular checks on the actions and performance of crew. Secondly, they relate to the technology, whether it be the provision of lifeboats and life rafts, hull construction material and methods or watertight compartmentation."
Professor Shenoi believes that the lessons learned from the disaster have been invaluable in ensuring that modern seafaring remains safe, and that when accidents do happen, lives are less likely to be lost.
"There are several lessons learned from the Titanic disaster relating to ship design, construction and operation. Lessons have also been learned regarding training crew," he added. "One major specific lesson relates to the provision of lifeboat capacity on cruise ships, adequate to cope with all people on board, something that was not contained in the rules and regulations prevalent in the Titanic days."
With the recent capsizing of the Costa Concordia, questions have been raised as to the general safety of today's cruise liners. Professor Shenoi said:
"It is impossible to say that an accident of the nature of Titanic will never happen again. However, tragic though the Costa Concordia accident was, it was well contained and far fewer people lost their lives or were physically hurt. That is because of the enhancement of safety culture in shipping and because of the use of improved engineering and technology. Such improvements in the way in which we design, construct and operate ships today coupled with vastly improved training for crew lead to much safer ship passages. Thus we can say with confidence that the likelihood of a tragic incident of the scale of Titanic occurring today is very small."
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