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    Re: A credible AIS track for the Costa Concordia
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2012 Jan 24, 00:10 -0800

    It's a plausible and consistent story, but we still have a bit of smoke and mirrors here. That looks like it's AIS data, but it's not pure data. There is a limited amount of AIS data that became available right after the incident, but it has big holes in it. Is this video interpolating between those "big holes" with best guess positions? If you look closely under the video at gcaptain.com, there is a small notice: "AIS data via QPS Maritime Software" and if you follow that link, you will find that the video shown at gcaptain.com is actually from QPS: http://www.qps.nl/display/qastor/2012/01/17/20120117_stranding. Konrad at gcaptain.com is simply talking over their video (which is displayed cropped in a rather annoying fashion in the gcaptain version). On the QPS site they state clearly that their video was created with interpolated positions, but they don't describe that process or include the extent of the interpolation. The videos, however, are very nice, and they do fit the available evidence quite well. More troubling, if you look at their pdf document describing the grounding, it reads like an advertisement for their software and their "grounding avoidance" algorithms. Again, they do not explain the interpolation process (at least I could not find any explanation). Do these folks make the software which was, in fact, deployed on the Costa Concordia? Did they produce this reconstruction using position data which is available to them internally?

    The earlier supposed AIS track which was posted on a Turkish maritime news web site showing a track through that narrow, shallow gap between two little islands was almost certainly a hoax. And in fact the perpetrators were probably paid a nice sum for their fake track. It was quickly pulled without explanation from a few other sites which had re-posted it. In a similar hoaxing incident, Italian news media were slammed for repeatedly replaying a youtube video of panicked passengers that someone had sold them. It was labeled and sold as video taken on-board the Costa Concordia during the incident but it later turned out that it was taken during some cruise ship emergency a couple of years ago in the Pacific.

    Anyway, I think the story that has come together is a fairly simple one. The captain was navigating visually. He knew the area well and had made close passes before. He turned too late and hit the outer edge of the reef. The rest is history, and it's just amazingly lucky that the loss of life was not vastly greater. But how can one individual, fallible as all mortals, be the sole cause of this? Were there no other officers monitoring the vessel's position? Were there no automated systems warning of dangerously shallow water? Where was the backup to this fallible individual??

    The disinformation that has accompanied this story serves as a reminder: when entering the Internet, set your Nonsense Detector to MAXIMUM.


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