OPINION

Human error?

…Eighty-five percent of shipping accidents are attributed to human error – a mistake is just a mistake even if it resembles a crime. …The Express Samina underwent an inspection and several alterations to conform to EU standards early in 2000 (before its fatal shipwreck in September). The inspection, which cost 4.4 million euros, was in the interests of many, including the shipowners, banks, insurers and port authorities, but also the Samina crew. It is highly unlikely that the latter all approved the Samina’s release from the shipyard if it was unseaworthy. Further, another 4.4 million euros of state cash spent on inspecting the sunken shipwreck determined that it had no mechanical or technical faults. The shipwreck was a result of the vessel’s colliding with a rocky islet – not its lack of seaworthiness. In any case, seaworthiness also depends on the quality of the crew. Shipowners in Greece generally rely on sailors trained by state institutions that fail to teach crucial techniques such as «crowd management.» But, if a ship needs to be evacuated, crew members should be able to reassure passengers while carrying out rescue procedures. It is to ensure this that the State insists such training is provided only by state bodies. But the evacuation of the Samina was handled defectively. «It was every man for himself,» the Port Authority chief said at the time. My opinion is that the state monopoly on naval training benefits state-backed unions but achieves nothing else.