The sinking of the Costa Concordia: an incapable captain and a disastrous evacuation – International

It was already night. And all the things that happen on a cruise ship happened. The dining rooms were full, in the casino the croupiers arranged cards in a sabot while the jackpot machines did not stop ringing, some singer who knew better times sang for an audience of overacted euphoria, others continued in the pools on the deck, some couple had sex in a cabin, others fought, several gentlemen had free drinks alone, some boys ran after a ball while someone challenged them, the captain of the ship and his young companion looked from the bridge at the beautiful Isla de Giglio.

It was 9:30 p.m. when a strong blow shook the boat. A cimbronazo that turned off the lights. And a great crash, a muffled detonation. After a few seconds of uncertainty, the crew members tried to appear calm to the passengers. Those with more experience knew that something bad had happened. They had never heard such a noise or experienced such a jolt. The passengers, in the dark, lost their calm. Everything got worse when some noticed – and told the rest – that the ship was listing.

Francesco Schettino (center, without helmet) boards the boat off the Italian island of Giglio, on February 27, 2014 (EFE).

There were no official orders. Only requests for calm and occasional phrases that minimized the problem. The crew members faded away. Every once in a while a voice came over the loudspeakers saying that it was just an electrical problem that would soon be fixed. The emergency lights lukewarmly illuminated the desperation of the passengers who, faced with the evident scuffing of the ship and their helplessness, ran and bumped into each other looking for the boats and life jackets.

On January 13, 2012, ten years ago, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank in Tuscany, very close to the Island of Giglio, a paradise of 800 inhabitants. It was one of the largest cruise ships in the world; It was 290 meters long and 61 high. It had 1,500 cabins, 5 restaurants, 13 bars, theaters, casinos, nightclubs, swimming pools, jacuzzis, a running circuit and a Formula 1 simulator, among other amenities and attractions. 4,229 people, including passengers and crew, were on board.

Captain Francesco Schettino made the ship pass very close to the Island of Giglio. Off course, the cruiser collided with a large stone. The ship was shipwrecked. In a short time he was lying in the water. 32 people died and more than 100 were injured.

Some time after the event, a video filmed with a telephone appeared. It is not known who recorded it. The crash had occurred an hour ago. On the command bridge of the Costa Concordia there is only confusion. If the captain hadn’t become famous (in English they have a perfect word for celebrity but for the wrong reasons: infamous), no one watching that video would be able to tell that he was the one in charge. Nobody gives orders. No decisions are made. You only see confusion and paralysis. And a bit of resignation. There are no discussions. Someone, outside the field, warns that the passengers have already begun to evacuate on their own. Schettino replies: “Well, that’s fine.” A few minutes later the evacuation alarm sounded. One hour and thirteen minutes after the crash. The cruiser, meanwhile, was slowly being swallowed up by the sea.

During the afternoon of January 13, the maitre general of the Costa Concordia went to speak with Captain Schettino. I needed to ask you a favor. He walked around a few times until he perked up. He wanted the cruise ship to approach the coast of Giglio Island, his homeland. He wanted his family and his childhood friends to see that he had done well, to appreciate the place where he worked. The captain immediately agreed. Schettino was affable, and those small gestures of demagoguery, he believed, strengthened him with the crew. In addition, he would sound the sirens of the cruise ship in honor of a former captain who now lived on the island (at the trial Schettino said the maneuver was a good 3X1: it also served as publicity for the company). Deviating from your original course was not that unusual for cruisers and was usually the sole responsibility of the one in command. But that kind gesture, the impromptu tribute, ended in tragedy. The collision with some rocks opened a path in the hull and the water and time did the rest.

Schettino, beyond the crimes defined by the Italian Penal Code for which he would later be tried, breached another rule, perhaps more sacred: he left the ship, his ship, before hundreds of passengers. While some could not get a boat and desperately threw themselves into the sea, he was already on the coast looking at the disaster.

The evacuation was chaotic. No one gave the necessary directives, nor did they bring peace of mind. No one bothered to organize the orderly exit. In some boats there were more than 70 people, 30 more than indicated. But most of the crew, including the captain, made it to safety very quickly.

Captain Schettino was tried for multiple crimes including abandoning the ship and manslaughter.

The tradition of the sea indicates that the last to go down is the one in command. And sometimes, even that is not enough. The loss of the ship and the lives of those in its charge led several captains to take their own lives. It was not the case of Schettino who privileged his own. By way of defense he wielded a stumble. He said, without turning red, that due to the tilt of the ship he fell on one of the boats at the moment it was being lowered. Nobody believed.

The conversation with Gregorio De Falco, the Commander of the Captaincy of Livorno, who did not understand how Schettino was not on his ship, is memorable. The recording was leaked immediately. The dialogue is tense from the beginning. From Livorno, De Falco introduces himself and asks Schettino to identify himself. Then, in an urgent tone, he tells him that there is a rope ladder at the bow, that he should go towards it and get back on the ship. Schettino calmly tells him that he is directing the rescue efforts from the boat that pulled him out of the sea. De Falco grows impatient. He orders him to go up, that there are people trapped. That from there inform if they are children, women or elderly and to determine what their needs are. Schettino seems not to acknowledge receipt. It is clear that he has no interest in getting back on his cruise. “What are you doing there? Get on the ship right now. That’s an order!” the commander yelled at him from the other end of the radio.

The Cruise was carrying 4,229 people between passengers and crew. The latter quickly escaped to safety, forgetting about the passengers..

-At this moment the boat is tilted…- Schettino tries to explain.

-I understand. There are people coming down the forward ladder right now. You do the reverse path up that ladder. Come up and tell me how many people there are and what things they have on board. Is it clear? And tell me if there are any boys, women or people who need assistance. And it tells me the exact number of each of these categories. Is it clear? Look Schettino, you may have been saved from the sea but now things are going to be really bad for you. I’m going to make him have a really bad time. Go aboard – Major De Falco replies furiously.

Commander, please…

-Nothing please. Get on board right now. make sure you’re going

-I’m going with the rescue boat. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m here.

What are you doing commander?

I’m coordinating the rescue.

-What will be coordinating there! Go aboard. Coordinate the rescue from there. Are you denying?

Cornered Schettino kept pulling excuses (very poor) from the sleeve. After justifying himself because they had another boat in front of him, he tried to send his second in command, warning him sideways that he was with him. The commander could not believe that the second had also not done his duty and also tried to send him back to the sunken cruiser. “Go both of you,” he ordered. But Schettino’s most childish and incredible excuse was that it was too dark.

De Falco, days later declared: “Abandoning the ship is more than deserting. It is betraying the Maritime Code”. In the course of the conversation (if it could be called that) of less than four minutes, Commander de Falco ordered Schettino back on board more than ten times.
When this recording was broadcast and everyone could hear how the captain dodged his duty and how he escaped to find a safe place, leaving hundreds of passengers trapped on the Costa Concordia, his future was sealed. The impact on public opinion was enormous.

To this story we must add one more character. Someone who was on the Costa Concordia but whose presence became known much later. He was not on the passenger list. Neither in the crew. It could have been a ghost but it was something slightly more profane. She was Captain Schettino’s mistress.

Domnica Cemortan was a young Moldovan dancer who accepted an offer almost impossible to refuse from Schettino: a few days aboard that luxurious hotel on the sea with all expenses paid and without restrictions on the use of its facilities. When they asked her at the trial how she managed to board the ship, she answered naturally: “When you’re the captain’s mistress, when you board they don’t ask for your ticket.”

The captain was married at the time – his wife left him after the shipwreck and his relationship with Cermotan became known. That made Italian public opinion hate him even more. The night of the incident they had dined together and after dessert, Schettino and the young Moldovan went up to the bridge to better appreciate the Island of Giglio when they passed in front of it. Very close to her.

Captain Schettino became the great protagonist of the tragedy. The story of no victim overshadowed that of the great responsible. The trial took place almost three years later. It generated so much expectation that the courtroom was set up in an old theater.
The captain was relaxed and elegant. He never gave up his playboy image. Impeccable suits and sunglasses, expensive coats, gelled hair gleamed. When it was his turn to testify, he prevented television from broadcasting his words live.

Captain Schettino with Domnica Cemortan, his Moldovan lover, who boarded the ship without a passenger. Since the day of the shipwreck they did not meet again

He was eloquent. He expressed his sorrow for the death of the 32 passengers and defended himself as best he could. He affirmed that he saved many lives thanks to the fact that with his maneuvers he managed to bring the damaged ship closer to the coast. And that that would have facilitated the shipwreck. The court convicted him. It found him guilty of shipwreck, manslaughter, bodily harm, abandoning the ship, and failure to comply with his duty to promptly report the damage.

The Submerged Truths. That was the title of the book the captain published while awaiting trial. It became an immediate best seller: in the first two weeks it sold 20,000 copies. The curiosity of knowing more, of finding explanations, of seeing someone fight against derision and shame, of listening to someone who is undoing in real time and in full view of everyone.

Francesco Schettino is serving his 16-year prison sentence at the Rebbibia prison in Rome. His behavior is exemplary, the highest authority of the prison said recently. The director of the prison defined him as a model prisoner. He studies law and journalism. Your notes are excellent. The careers he chose do not seem casual. He believes that the ignorance of both branches was what makes him spend his days behind bars.
He is convinced that he was a scapegoat, he does not feel responsible. He pointed to the rest of the officers and argued that he was not notified in time. The five that followed him in the hierarchy of the ship agreed with the prosecutor’s office on light sentences that ranged from six months to two years in prison on hold.

The ship was left lying in front of the island of Giglio for two years. After hundreds of millions of dollars, they managed to straighten it and transport it to the port of Genoa. But it was not repaired. There was too much tragedy inside him. The Costa Concordia was scrapped. The company that owned the ship suffered heavy financial losses. Source: (Infobae)

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Helen Hernandez is our best writer. Helen writes about social news and celebrity gossip. She loves watching movies since childhood. Email: Phone : +1 281-333-2229

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