Audio: Captain refuses to return to sinking Costa Concordia to help passengers evacuate

posted at 3:45 pm on January 17, 2012 by Allahpundit

I posted the transcript in Headlines earlier but it doesn’t do justice to the audio. Take four minutes and listen as a man turns his surname into a byword for cowardice under pressure at sea. Supposedly he was in a lifeboat while this was happening, but WaPo says otherwise:

Captain Francesco Schettino told the coast guard the evacuation was nearly finished when it had barely started, according to the transcripts. He also claimed he was on the ship despite having escaped over rocks near where the liner had crashed and caught a taxi to take him away from the scene, according to two Italian newspapers.

He wasn’t the only one who put himself first. While some passengers behaved heroically, crew members were spotted leaping into lifeboats while people ran around screaming on deck. The current death toll stands at 11 with 23 still missing. And all because, supposedly, Schettino wanted to do a favor for the head waiter by making a close pass of his home island.

He’s under house arrest as I write this. Even if he avoids prison, I don’t know how he’ll function in society now that this clip is going viral. It’s a “mortal sin,” said one maritime union official to Fox News. “Unforgivable.” Exit question: Where are our Benjamin Guggenheims?


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This wasn’t known at the time. Rescue efforts have already been called off once because the ship moved on the ledge it sits on.

The ship may still sink.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Uh, didn’t they have sonar?

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:29 PM

They also claimed that they could not deploy anymore lifeboats because one got stuck. Didn’t the same thing happen on the Titanic? Haven’t they figured out what to do and to do it quickly by now when this happens?

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

They also claimed that they could not deploy anymore lifeboats because one got stuck. Didn’t the same thing happen on the Titanic? Haven’t they figured out what to do and to do it quickly by now when this happens?

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Titanic began the voyage with only 20 lifeboats when she had space for 48. This gave her a capacity of about 52%. For some reason the shipping company elected not to install the other 28 boats. Whether or not they’ve figured out what to do with a stuck boat…Ask Bishop he was a Bos’n.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Uh, didn’t they have sonar?

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Most likely, so. When you are playing in an area you aren’t supposed to be in a 100,000 ton, almost 1,000′ ship, it doesn’t respond any better than the Titanic.

Didn’t the same thing happen on the Titanic? Haven’t they figured out what to do and to do it quickly by now when this happens?

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:35 PM

N0, different circumstances, different technology.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Maritime laws at the time didn’t require any more lifeboats than the Titanic carried. The Titanic went down in the cold north Atlantic with all the extra hazards associated with it.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 5:47 PM

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maddmatt on January 17, 2012 at 5:49 PM

I am not an Admiralty (Maritime) law expert but here is an exert from a relevant brief examining the issue from such an expert.

You will notice it aligns almost exactly with the common language description I gave.

THE CAPTAIN’S DUTY ON A SINKING SHIP
by
Craig H. Allen

Federal statutes impose few specific requirements on a merchant ship’s captain following a casualty. The shipping laws of the United States and most other nations do include a “Standby Act,” which requires the captain of a ship involved in a collision or other incident with another vessel to stand by and render such assistance as the ship is capable of giving. However, no statute or regulation expressly addresses the captain’s duty to his own ship in the event of a sinking.
Nevertheless, the captain’s duty to remain with his ship until the end is recognized. The Merchant Marine Officer’s Handbook, for example, lists the duties of a master following a casualty. According to the Handbook, the master is:
1. The last man to leave the vessel;
2. Bound to use all reasonable efforts to save everything possible (ship and cargo), through aid of salvage, if necessary;
3. Responsible for the return of the crew;
4. Responsible for communicating promptly with owners and underwriters; and
5. In charge until lawfully suspended.
Federal case law largely echoes the Handbook. Courts have ruled that a captain’s duty “includes doing, at all times, everything possible to preserve the vessel.” And “even though the so-called duty of a captain to go down with his ship exists more in fiction than in fact there can be no doubt that he must risk even that, in some measure, if by remaining aboard he may be able to save her.”

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM

I thought the lifeboats on the Titanic got tangled up and they couldn’t get people in them.

Here, the captain is saying one got stuck so they couldn’t launch anymore or something.

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Maritime laws at the time didn’t require any more lifeboats than the Titanic carried. The Titanic went down in the cold north Atlantic with all the extra hazards associated with it.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Yep, the law at the time only required 16 boats with a total volume of 5500 cuft for vessels over 10,000 tons so Titanic actually had more than required by law.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 5:55 PM

I get duty and all, but this is a cruise ship captain on a luxury boat filled with tourists. It’s not like he’s the head of a nuclear sub or a destroyer or something filled with soldiers.

I can’t even imagine being in that situation. I feel like 99% of us would bolt too. I wager it’d be hard to overcome the strong instinct to save yourself from a watery grave.

TheBlueSite on January 17, 2012 at 5:11 PM

On Progressive Planet maybe. I bet more than half would risk their lives to save others.

hawkdriver on January 17, 2012 at 5:57 PM

I thought the lifeboats on the Titanic got tangled up and they couldn’t get people in them.

Here, the captain is saying one got stuck so they couldn’t launch anymore or something.

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Given Schenitto’s actions I would take anything he has to say with more than a few grains of salt. A man willing to experience the level of cowardice he risked and now receives is more than willing to lie is A$$ off.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 5:59 PM

As would Sully, his passengers, and crew during the “Miracle on the Hudson”.

Laura in Maryland on January 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Without trying to take anything away from Sullenberger and the rest of the people on board the airplane, evacuating a major cruise ship has got to be more difficult. Not only are there 20 or 40 times more people on board the ship, but they could be in any of hundreds of cabins or other rooms. On the plane, if you’re trying to make sure that everyone has gotten out of the aircraft, you just need to look at, say, 30 rows, 2 lavatories, the cockpit and the galley. It would have been much easier to account for everyone on the plane.

J.S.K. on January 17, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Blake on January 17, 2012 at 5:53 PM

There are all kinds of stories about the Titanic’s lifeboats. One got hung up, one broke from its lines. That kind of stuff happens.

I think what you are getting at is the collapsible lifeboats. Those were supposed to be put on the davits after the boat hung from them was launched. I don’t recall if any were launched that way, but I do remember seeing a picture of one of them, partially erected, holding survivors.

It is still apples and oranges. If the crew of the Costa Concordia had followed procedure, there was enough room in the life boats for all of the passengers. Not the case with the Titanic. Heck, some of the lifeboats were launched unfilled because the passengers felt they would be safer on the ship. According to reports, the passengers weren’t even mustered until it was too late.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 6:05 PM

I get duty and all, but this is a cruise ship captain on a luxury boat filled with tourists. It’s not like he’s the head of a nuclear sub or a destroyer or something filled with soldiers.

I can’t even imagine being in that situation. I feel like 99% of us would bolt too. I wager it’d be hard to overcome the strong instinct to save yourself from a watery grave.

TheBlueSite on January 17, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Like Old Nuke I to am a nuclear sailor and from a submarine. It is not relevant whether a captain is civilian or Military, they both have the same level of power, respect, privilege and discretion at Sea.

Civilian or Military Captains can Marry, Arrest/Detain, Limit Rations, even condemn to death anyone aboard their ship. They have the same level of authority and as such the same level of responsibility(duty)

Some may argue marriage is a myth but I would refer them to Fisher vs. Fisher in 1929 the New York Court of Appeals which recognized a Sea captains marriage ceremony as being valid.

The death thing might seem silly but consider a Captain is boarded by a pirate and successfully prevents capture of his ship, the captain has the option if the risk is viewed as to great to just detain them to set the pirate back to sea in only a small raft with meager provisions and sail on, effectively leaving the individuals to die and this will be viewed as acceptable via a Captains discretion.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM

As an italian i can assure you that Schettino right now is one of the most hated man in the country, every newspaper describe him as a coward. Granted it0s pretty difficult to save 4000+ people with elders, children among them but the DUTY of the capitan is to be the last one on the ship…btw the last man to leave the ship was a purser who stayed and checked that everyone in resturant was safe and sound, unluckly when he was leaving he broke a leg and was saved 36 hours later. The CG capitain ripped another one in Schettino, i’ve listen to the original audio and there’s one sentence that is becoming legend “get on the ship f@ck”.

Italian Journalists are well aware on how Italy looks right now because of this mess. Newspaper and newsprogram are dedicating pages and hours about it

countrygirl on January 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

countrygirl on January 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Thanks for the insights.

hawkdriver on January 17, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Like Old Nuke I to am a nuclear sailor and from a submarine.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Are you a nuke? If so what flavor and what class? I like to know what time frame folks belong in.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Are you a nuke? If so what flavor and what class? I like to know what time frame folks belong in.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Nuke ET back in the day when we qualified both ET and RO, 8505, boomer sailor. My rate tests were all ET based.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Italian Journalists are well aware on how Italy looks right now because of this mess. Newspaper and newsprogram are dedicating pages and hours about it

countrygirl on January 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

I hope that very few people paint this with a broad brush and indict all of Italy. I know some will but this was one guy not a whole country.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Italian Journalists are well aware on how Italy looks right now because of this mess. Newspaper and newsprogram are dedicating pages and hours about it

countrygirl on January 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

I have to wonder now if maybe this isn’t part of the reason the tradition of ship’s master being the last man off got started.

What country wants to be identified with cowardly leaders who are supposedly the cream of a nation.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Nuke ET back in the day when we qualified both ET and RO, 8505, boomer sailor. My rate tests were all ET based.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:20 PM

65-01, Mare Island, A1W. MM skimmer here. We had all sorts back then, even enginemen and hospital corpsemen :-). IC guys could go either electrical or RO, if you can imagine that. Did you retire? I’m having breakfast this Thursday with a whole slew of ex-Navy Nukes! Skimmers and bubbleheads both. Guys that retired from the same civilian nuke plant I did. We get together once a month and solve all the world’s problems. We usually have a great time.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:29 PM

65-01, Mare Island, A1W. MM skimmer here. We had all sorts back then, even enginemen and hospital corpsemen :-). IC guys could go either electrical or RO, if you can imagine that. Did you retire? I’m having breakfast this Thursday with a whole slew of ex-Navy Nukes! Skimmers and bubbleheads both. Guys that retired from the same civilian nuke plant I did. We get together once a month and solve all the world’s problems. We usually have a great time.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Nope didn’t retire did 7 patrols in 6 years and got out, worked for 3 civilian nuke plants and then settled in on the third. I missed the days of IC/Corpseman nukes by a a few years at best. When I was in only three rates existed, MM/EM/ET each tied to the respective discipline. Now they actually have nuke rates, about time i guess.

Like you I keep in touch with all my old nuke friends, I think all nukes do that. I just read somewhere that after nearly 60 years of nuclear training the Navy will finally graduate their 100,000th nuke, sounds like a lot but over 60 years and 300 million people in the US it really is a small population.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Important safety tip: If the Captain of your cruise ship is sporting a mullet…get off before the ship sails.

AUINSC on January 17, 2012 at 6:40 PM

When the Andrea Doria sank in 1956, the crew abandoned ship before a lot of the passengers. They were just as cowardly.

portlandon on January 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM

We should remember that ships’ crews come from all over the world these days. They aren’t particularly well paid or well trained in most setting (though to be sure there are skilled positions). I wouldn’t be surprised if the less-trained, less skilled crew did bolt — with the ship listing first left then right, the panic would set in easily and a lot of people would do whatever they could to get off the ship.

That’s where the captain and the key officers earn their pay. First by training their people better (though perhaps the crew here rotates to different ships and thus training is next to impossible). But second, by providing calm leadership during the crisis. If you see the captain there at the row of lifeboats, bullhorn in hand, calmly directing, cajoling and ordering the situation, you as a panicked crew person will likely remember your duties. If you see/hear that the captain is already on shore, you’re likely to want to join him, passengers be damned.

Steve White on January 17, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Italian Journalists are well aware on how Italy looks right now because of this mess. Newspaper and newsprogram are dedicating pages and hours about it

countrygirl on January 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM

I hope that very few people paint this with a broad brush and indict all of Italy. I know some will but this was one guy not a whole country.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 6:21 PM

There’s always Fabrizio Quattrocchi as a counterpoint.

tom on January 17, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Let him finish his cannoli!

profitsbeard on January 17, 2012 at 7:07 PM

Women with children should be a given. You ever try even getting out of a car with a baby in each arm? Imagine that at about half your leverage, if you are a male. Now, if my kids aren’t with me, I will wait in the same line as the men with no children in arms, and help those that have them, male or female.

And the exchange in the original Italian is priceless. That coast guard officer makes it real clear what a captain’s duty is in Italy…colorfully.

Javahog on January 17, 2012 at 7:11 PM

after nearly 60 years of nuclear training the Navy will finally graduate their 100,000th nuke, sounds like a lot but over 60 years and 300 million people in the US it really is a small population.

Skwor on January 17, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Yeah, there never were very many of us. Even fewer now. Three of my friends were actually at SL-1. Two of them are gone now. All three were in the tri-services thing and trained on that barge at Ft.Belvoir. I retired from North Anna in Y2K. I was on the initial fueling crew for both units. In operations from 76 to 96 (I think). Shift supervisor for about 12 years then Outage co-ordinator for the last four years or so.

One thing I’m picking up from reading this thread. A lot of folks just don’t understand the concept of “Captain” and what it entails or what’s required. I guess they’ve never heard of Whitey Mack and Lapon, or others like him.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Captain Obooba? Ship of state? Help me here, I’m close…

Akzed on January 17, 2012 at 7:38 PM

One thing I’m picking up from reading this thread. A lot of folks just don’t understand the concept of “Captain” and what it entails or what’s required. I guess they’ve never heard of Whitey Mack and Lapon, or others like him.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 7:19 PM

You don’t have to be a nuke, or a bubblehead, or a squid to understand the rights and responsibilities that goes with captaincy. And some of us do know who Whitey Mack is and the Lapon.

Heck there was even some anal retentive Hyman guy that made the US Navy’s nuclear program the envy of the world.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 7:40 PM

And some of us do know who Whitey Mack is and the Lapon.

Heck there was even some anal retentive Hyman guy that made the US Navy’s nuclear program the envy of the world.

cozmo on January 17, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Well then, I guess I wasn’t talking about you was I :-) Hyman, Hyman who? Never heard of him….Oh! You mean Hymie! This guy, yeah I think I know who that is.

Oldnuke on January 17, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Pure Cowardice.

Bulletchaser on January 17, 2012 at 9:32 PM

Never spent a day in the Navy, but I know who “Hymie” is. I keep one of his quotable quotes close at hand.

“Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.”

Sums it up for me.

manwithblackhat on January 17, 2012 at 9:49 PM

As my name indicates, this case really sticks in my craw. After reading the writeup in the Times, I can not even imagine that any captain would ever behave that way, even a civilian cruise captain.

Ive also been in those waters before, that guy is full of horse puckey if he is claiming a rock that big was not charted.

TinCanNav on January 18, 2012 at 12:37 AM

What makes this so despicable is that he was the ship’s Captain.

This talk of “chivalry” falls on deaf ears here.

I can imagine it now, myself on a sinking ship: “Oh, sorry m’am, sure, go ahead. You have a vagina, and I do not. It’s no loss if I die.”

Yeah sorry, but no. I would do everything I could to get me and any loved ones out alive. To hell with “chivalry” and dying because of what’s between your legs. Having said that, if you’re going to act selflessly and heroically on another basis, then my hat is off to you. But based on sex is absurd.

And if I was among the ship’s crew? It would be my duty to get all passengers off before I considered my own well-being. But the talk of chivalry is laughable since I guarantee 95% of you would NOT do as I illustrated in the hypothetical above.

jjraines on January 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

This guy is a Joseph Conrad character come to life. Lord Jim comes to mind.

bobcalco on January 18, 2012 at 6:57 AM

What makes this so despicable is that he was the ship’s Captain.
This talk of “chivalry” falls on deaf ears here.
I can imagine it now, myself on a sinking ship: “Oh, sorry m’am, sure, go ahead. You have a vagina, and I do not. It’s no loss if I die.”
Yeah sorry, but no. I would do everything I could to get me and any loved ones out alive. To hell with “chivalry” and dying because of what’s between your legs. Having said that, if you’re going to act selflessly and heroically on another basis, then my hat is off to you. But based on sex is absurd.
And if I was among the ship’s crew? It would be my duty to get all passengers off before I considered my own well-being. But the talk of chivalry is laughable since I guarantee 95% of you would NOT do as I illustrated in the hypothetical above.
jjraines on January 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

I’d refer you to one of Robert Heinlien’s speeches, I think it was an address to his alma mater, the Naval Academy. Women and children first is a species survival startegy, not some useless curtosey based off what’s “between a person’s legs.”

kenashimame on January 18, 2012 at 9:23 AM

jjraines on January 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

So you want an exception for vagina mouth so you can get on the first lifeboats yourself? At least you’re honest about being a douche, I’ll give you that.

NotCoach on January 18, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Schettino has to be one of the most reckless and cowardly jerks to ever masquerade as a ship’s captain.

Photos of the wreck show the ship on its side less than 100 yards from the rocky shore of an island, meaning that Schettino was even more reckless than the captain of the Titanic. People have been navigating the Mediterranean near Italy for well over 2,000 years, so those waters are extremely well-charted, so a captain willing to risk 4,000 people sailing a huge cruise liner that close to an island is downright foolhardy.

There is absolutely no excuse for the captain’s leaving the ship before every attempt could be made to rescue all passengers and crew. With the ship aground and lying on its side, there is no danger of the ship sinking, and there would be plenty of time to rescue anyone who was not drowned during the initial impact, and any available lifeboats could make several trips to bring all survivors to the nearby island.

Schettino is a disgrace to his ship, his passengers, and his country, but we should also give credit to the captain of the Italian Coast Guard, who is a true hero.

Steve Z on January 18, 2012 at 9:53 AM

This talk of “chivalry” falls on deaf ears here.

jjraines on January 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM

Dang right! Forget about all that more upper body strength and better designed for harsh environment stuff about men.

Let those women fend for themselves.

How’s that work on Saturday nights?

cozmo on January 18, 2012 at 10:09 AM

Photos of the wreck show the ship on its side less than 100 yards from the rocky shore of an island, meaning that Schettino was even more reckless than the captain of the Titanic.

Steve Z on January 18, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Where the wreck lays now is not where it hit the rocks. The ship was trying for the harbor when she keeled over.

cozmo on January 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM

jjraines on January 18, 2012 at 3:50 AM
So you want an exception for vagina mouth so you can get on the first lifeboats yourself? At least you’re honest about being a douche, I’ll give you that.

NotCoach on January 18, 2012 at 9:44 AM

How is jjraines a douche? Is his life worth less than anyone else’s?

I’m disgusted that so many people have so much contempt for men that they’re actually suggesting that it’s natural for them to stand on a sinking ship and perish, willingly, so that women can live. Equality isn’t some modern invention of feminists (though the feminists are absolutely right). Equality is the way we all should be treated — including when it benefits men. There should be no less lifeboat capacity than you have people on board. Impractical? So is drowning.

I’d refer you to one of Robert Heinlien’s speeches, I think it was an address to his alma mater, the Naval Academy. Women and children first is a species survival startegy, not some useless curtosey based off what’s “between a person’s legs.”

kenashimame on January 18, 2012 at 9:23 AM

I’ve seen his name bounced around in the past week. Any idea why we should care what he had to say?

bmmg39 on January 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM

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