What Was Costa Concordia's Skipper Playing At?

As hope of finding survivors fades and a recorded transcript emerges, captain Francesco Schettino has a lot to answer for.
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As hope of finding survivors fades and a recorded transcript emerges, captain Francesco Schettino has a lot to answer for.

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So the Italian press has released a transcript of the conversation between the Italian Coastguard and the captain of the Costa Concordia.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, appears, in the translation at least, to be extremely reluctant to go back to the ship he abandoned a while earlier.

Now, it may be that to get back onto a ship that is listing alarmingly is a very difficult, if not impossible task. Especially as the ropeladder back up the upturned hull would be choc- a-bloc with desperate and frightened people trying to get off the ship safely and quickly, which begs one question...

Why did he abandon the ship in the first place?

Now I know that there are no laws that say that the captain has to "go down with the ship," especially these days, however, as far as we know he was responsible for the disaster in the first place. One analogy would be a pilot with an aircraft full of passengers jumping out of the cockpit just before the plane hit the mountain. Not a perfect analogy by any means, but by its extremeness it demonstrates the selfishness and idiocy of his decision to leave the sinking ship. We all know the well known saying about the type of rodent that does that, and in this instance it would seem to reinforce the correctness of the phrase.

With the information we have at the moment, he would appear to outsiders that he had deviated from the safe route, instead cutting it a bit too fine by sailing just too close to the rocky shoreline. If this was not done in the full knowledge of the danger of the action, it was then, at the very least, reckless. This means that he was unconcerned about the potential severity of the consequences of his actions.

It would appear that this recklessness has resulted in several wholly avoidable deaths, great damage to the ship and unimaginable fear to the passengers and crew. Not to mention the danger to the sea rescuers. Now, I'm sure that Schettino did not mean for this to be the outcome, but you have to ask what he was thinking...or even if he was thinking at all.

It would appear that this recklessness has resulted in several wholly avoidable deaths, great damage to the ship and unimaginable fear to the passengers and crew.

Schettino has, by all accounts, been a captain since 2006. This is not an inexperienced man. Unfortunately for him this makes it all the worse, and would tend to reinforce my assertion of recklessness.

In the recording, Coastguard Captain Gregorio De Falco repeatedly orders him to get back on board the ship. The translation of the transcript between Schettino, and De Falco is quite enlightening as to the character of the captain:

De Falco : "Listen Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea, but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Dammit, go back on board!"

Schettino, pleads at one point: "Do you realise that it is dark and we can't see anything?"

The coastguard shouts back: "So, what do you want to do, to go home, Schettino?! It's dark and you want to go home? Go to the bow of the ship where the ladder is and tell me what needs to be done, how many people there are, and what they need! Now!"

Well, De Falco hasn't made Schettino look bad...he did that all himself.

The story will, no doubt, continue to unfold over the next few days and weeks.

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