Transcripts have been published in the Italian media claiming to detail a discussion between the captain of the Costa Concordia Francesco Schettino and the coastguard. The conversation that was released by Italian Newspaper, II Fatto Quotidiano without source appears to document that the captain had in fact abandoned ship whilst passengers were still fighting for their lives on board.
Captain – “No. I’m not on board because the bows of the ship are coming up. We’ve abandoned her.”
Coastguard – “What do you mean? You’ve abandoned ship?”
Captain – “No. No way have I abandoned ship. I’m here,”
Coastguard – “Right. You are now going back on board. You are going to go back up the rope ladder, return to the bridge and co-ordinate operations.”
Coastguard – “You must tell me how many passengers there are… This is an order. Now I am in command. You have declared the abandoning of a ship and are going to co-ordinate the rescue from the bridge.”
Captain – “Alright, I’m going.”
This conversation apparently took place at 1.46am. The deputy mayor of Giglio said he boarded the ship at 11:00pm and proceeded to help rescue passengers until 5:00am , he says he “never once saw the captain,” suggesting that Schettino disobeyed the coastguard’s order to return to his ship. Reports have even suggested that he fled the scene from the rocks in a taxi.
The 114,500-tonne luxury cruise liner grounded on granite rocks just yards away from the shore of the Tuscan island of Giglio on Friday the 13th of January as captain Francesco Schettino made an “unapproved, unauthorised manoeuvre,” according to Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive of Costa Cruises. The disaster has claimed 6 lives so far and a further 29 people are reported missing – 4 crew members and 25 passengers.
The captain deviated from the official route in order to pay tribute to the ship’s former captain who lives on the island. An official ruling had prohibited all ships from passing within 500m of the island, but reports suggest that the Costa Concordia was as close as 150m to Giglio when the vessel ran-aground. Schettino has been arrested under suspicion of manslaughter and abandoning ship; he has been quoted as saying: “The voice of my conscience cries out loudest of all.”
The catastrophe looks set to create a fissure in the cruise ship industry this year, as many tourists will be reluctant to book a cruise holiday after hearing of the horrors of the Costa Concordia. This is a vital time of year as it usually attracts the most bookings. Carnival, the ship’s owners are expected to lose out on £58 million from the accident, simply as a result of the boat being out of use for the rest of the year – the company had already lowered its prices in 2012 as a result of the Eurozone debt crisis taking its toll on on public spending.
Photograph courtesy of Stock Images