Join 3,368 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Guasto Titanico
January 18, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Cruise Captain says he 'tripped' into lifeboat and couldn't get out. Audio recording of an Italian Coast Guard Captain telling him to get back on board [Transcript]
posted by panaceanot (194 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been hearing about this on NPR this week. I hope he gets hit with the full force of the law.
posted by rebent at 8:07 PM on January 18, 2012


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:10 PM on January 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Italy's Cruise Crisis Spawns An Unlikely Star
Five days after a cruise liner slammed into rocks off Italy's Tuscan coast, the country is gripped by the contrasting profiles of two key figures in the drama — the captain charged with abandoning ship and the captain who demanded he get back onboard.

For many Italians, the accident has become a metaphor for a country that sees itself mired in economic and moral decline.

Francesco Schettino, the disgraced captain of the 1,000-foot-long floating palace known as the Costa Concordia, is under house arrest on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

During the four-minute conversation hours after the collision, an increasingly enraged De Falco orders Schettino to return to the ship and help coordinate the evacuation of the many remaining passengers.

"You've abandoned ship! I'm in charge now," De Falco rages at Schettino, who was apparently in a rowboat at this time. "Go back and report to me how many passengers [are still onboard] and what they need. ... Perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I'll make you pay for this, dammit!"

Schettino can be heard trying to refuse the order. "You don't understand, it's dark here. Can't see anything," he says.

"What is it, you want to go home Schettino?" De Falco spits out. "It's dark and you want to go home?"

Eventually De Falco demands: "Go back onboard, dammit!"

De Falco's Italian expletive is actually much harsher than "dammit" — but the line has become a national catchphrase and is Italy's top trending hashtag, or keyword on Twitter.

Minutes after that audio was posted online, Italians had a new hero.
posted by peeedro at 8:11 PM on January 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.

Well I'm not sure of all the ins and outs of Maritime Law, but I assume he's got a sort of responsibility to, uh, DO STUFF TO HELP after he gets drunk, deviates from course, and then runs a big-ass boat filled with like 4,000 people into some rocks.

He is the Captain. He's got a responsibility that is absolute.

I don't think he's got to sit there and die with the boat, but he's responsible for the people on it.
posted by entropone at 8:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


Capt. Gregorio De Falco will be played by Sir Ben in the film adaptation.

That was intense.
posted by heyho at 8:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.

I think it's more "the captain doesn't bail out like chicken shit and abandon his passengers." People were scared, some were even dying, and if he'd stayed behind to do his job, those people might've been found and moved out faster.
posted by katillathehun at 8:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I empathize with his cowardice. That's why I'll never captain a cruise liner.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [23 favorites]


The transcript cannot possibly do the video justice. The video linked in the FPP is AMAZING. It really did make me want Schettino's balls on a platter and some small fraction of De Falco's balls someday when I might need them.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


i will shamlessly steal this comment from another forum i frequent, because it is hilarious. in reference to the now-famous satellite photo of the shipwreck, it was said "It's quite an accomplishment to be able to look like a fucking asshole FROM SPACE."
posted by radiosilents at 8:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [62 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.
Well, I don't think that's really a literal phrase to most modern people; most people would interpret it to mean that he has a duty to stay and help others, not that he has a duty to stay permanently and drown.
posted by Flunkie at 8:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I empathize with his cowardice. That's why I'll never captain a cruise liner.

eponyister...
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:16 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


He caused the crash, ignored the peril, fled early from the ship and had to be shamed into returning, and has lied until caught about almost everything. God save us all from putting our lives and safety in the hands of a self indulgent, cowardly, untruthful jerk like this man. No sorrow if he goes to jail for this. But how did he ever succeed in getting or keeping this job?
posted by bearwife at 8:17 PM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.

The guy is, colloquially speaking, a murderer. It seems as though his criminal negligence caused the death of dozens of people.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:19 PM on January 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


Also... I find "Are we clear on this?" a poor translation for "Chiaro?" I think a more literal "Clear?" works far better.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:21 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


he didn't have to be hero, but to compare him to an airplane pilot.. he flew into a giant thunderhead, let go of the controls, and then strapped on a chute and took a leap out the door while saying "see ya, suckers".
posted by ninjew at 8:23 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


The dog ate his good excuse.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


You Can't Tip a Buick: “It's sort of interesting how ‘the captain goes down with the ship’ is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.”

I think this is emphatically not a cultural norm thing. At least eleven people are dead. He was in charge. And when it happened, he ran away. That's a pretty simple situation that cuts across cultural lines.

All week, I've been reflecting, with extreme gratitude, on the fact that I've never found myself in a situation where I had to choose between my own safety and the potential death of others. I am not so certain I would have been able to do the right thing, so I feel some pity for this guy.

At the same time – he did not do the right thing.
posted by koeselitz at 8:25 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


He caused the crash, ignored the peril, fled early from the ship and had to be shamed into returning, and has lied until caught about almost everything.

Next stop, Goldman Sachs.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2012 [103 favorites]


man i couldn't get out of the lifeboat if i was tripping either
posted by facetious at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2012 [23 favorites]


"Hello, yes, this is Captain Schettino speaking.
"Yes, yes, I am on board the ship.
"Yes, I intend to go down with the ship, if that's what's needed.
"Yes, I am looking after all the passengers.
"Uh, let's see -- onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleven -- there's eleven of us, not including me.
"I'm sorry -- I don't understand. Leave this ship?
"But I'm the Captain -- I can't leave the ship. I must go down with the ship.
"Excuse me, what?
"But we just got here!
"Oh, you mean THAT ship. The big one!
"Yes, I thought it was a little strange of you, calling a lifeboat a 'ship'.
"Go back on that one? Don't you know it's sinking?"

Apologies to Bob Newhart.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:27 PM on January 18, 2012 [52 favorites]


I have heard that, of the charges mentioned, abandoning ship is actually the most serious.

I think this particular case brings the reasons why into sharp relief. There may end up "only" being a dozen casualties, but the situation described on board the ship was, in a word, disastrous. We are lucky that the death toll was not higher.
posted by muddgirl at 8:30 PM on January 18, 2012


Chicken Of The Sea

Say what you will about the New York Post, but sometimes they have a way with a headline...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 PM on January 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


What's the actual Italian phrase used for "Go back on lard, dammit!"

And what's the real world and real translation of "dammit," as many news stories say is not actually what De Falco said? They say it's something harsher...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:33 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Land, not lard. Fuck you, iPad.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:33 PM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Also... I find "Are we clear on this?" a poor translation for "Chiaro?" I think a more literal "Clear?" works far better"

Or even just "CAPICE??" I would love to hear what he's really saying, curses and all. Anyone here speak Italian?

I heard on NPR this morning that the situation over there is basically chaos and has been from the moment the emergency started, no one has any oversight or authority and no one knows anything.
posted by bleep at 8:33 PM on January 18, 2012


Eponysterical I know, but I can't help but feel kinda sorry for the guy. A lot of us are comically inept, dishonest, craven cowards, but somehow through the grace of god we don't (knock on wood) end up causing the deaths of dozens of people and having our pathetic weakness laid bare before the world.
posted by Flashman at 8:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm.

That's how things work at sea. I'm a sailor. My word is law on any vessel skippered by me. When on-board, I require that you listen to me, and do as I say. This means that I am therefore responsible for the safety of anyone I take to sea. If something goes awry, I am duty-bound to look to the safety of passengers and crew, before any other consideration. No exceptions.

This POS violated almost every single norm of prudent seamanship, from sailing close inshore with-out local knowledge, to failure to notify authorities and passengers in a timely manner. His reckless disregard for his passenger's safety and subsequent fleeing like rat from a sinking ship is one of the most cavalierly conscienceless displays of cowardice to make the news in a long time.

Were I sitting in judgement on this case, I'd be giving him the maximum sentence for each life lost, consecutively.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:36 PM on January 18, 2012 [81 favorites]


I also feel bad for the guy. It seems like a straightforward case but I hesitate to judge when 8 billion tons of international judgement are bearing down on this poor guy. I mean wouldn't it really suck if he did fall into the lifeboat and wanted to get back to the ship but couldn't?
posted by bleep at 8:37 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm... Well I'm not sure of all the ins and outs of Maritime Law....

I work in summer and fall on a tour boat in Maine, with five or six different captains... one of whom just emailed me this interesting piece in Slate about maritime law and captains, plus the etiquette of 'women and children first.'
posted by LeLiLo at 8:39 PM on January 18, 2012


This POS violated almost every single norm of prudent seamanship,

I follow aviation accidents, not boating (sailing? Mediterranean cruising?) accidents. Is there a source for more technical details on this event, other than wading through a bunch of repetitive CNN reports.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:40 PM on January 18, 2012


He caused the crash, ignored the peril, fled early from the ship and had to be shamed into returning, and has lied until caught

Not to mention a complete lack of oversight surrounding crew accident preparedness. See all the lifeboats still attached to the ship on the upturned side? The ones crew members stood by but refused to lower? They were waiting for instructions that never came, but with better and frequent training drills should have known to take matters into their owns hands and fill/lower those lifeboats before the list became so great they would just drag against the side.

The crew was slack because their leader was slack, and they knew it.

We are lucky that the death toll was not higher.

This.

It's the night vision footage of hundreds of people milling about on the side of the hull of a freshly beached wreck that drives me up the wall. How many of them were seniors who survived because of luck and assistance from the younger and more agile?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:40 PM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Somehow the expression "What a maroooon!" just seems to fit this guy.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was mad about the captain's cowardice, but when I saw infrared video of THIS, I was enraged. That's the top side of the ship, where they didn't release the lifeboats in time so when the ship turned up, they were stuck high up in the air. Apparently that is the rope ladder, and people are climbing down it. In the brief few seconds of video I saw, it looked like everyone was sitting on the ladder, and passing people from hand to hand, helping them down the side of the ship while they used the ladder as a human chain. And then when they got to the end of the human chain, they had to climb down the final vertical section of the ladder and jump into the water, then swim to the rescue boat. This is just outrageous.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the video, "dammit" was actually "Christo!" (Christ!) if I'm at the right point in the transcript/audio.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:41 PM on January 18, 2012


Eponysterical I know, but I can't help but feel kinda sorry for the guy. A lot of us are comically inept, dishonest, craven cowards, but somehow through the grace of god we don't (knock on wood) end up causing the deaths of dozens of people and having our pathetic weakness laid bare before the world.

I have some sympathy, too, but he's got to be stupid (or in DEEP denial about his nature) in addition to being inept, dishonest and cowardly. Because if you're inept, dishonest and cowardly, who on Earth would you choose to work as a ship captain?

I have my faults, but I'm much less inept, dishonest, and cowardly than he is. Still, I'm inept, dishonest and cowardly enough to be scared to drive a car. I KNOW I shouldn't be on the road. I also bought the toughest, most over-the-top case I could possibly find for my iPhone, because I KNOW I'm going to drop it at least once a day.

He's like a born klutz who chooses to run with scissors. Or an accident-prone guy who climbs a rickety ladder while holding a Faberge egg and says, "What could possibly go wrong?"
posted by grumblebee at 8:42 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


He caused the crash...

Can anyone elaborate on how he caused the crash? I can't find clear details in amongst the general rage and contempt. There's a mention upthread that he was drunk.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:43 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was far too close to shore, I guess. He was just a few hundred yards from the beach. He claims now that he hit a reef that isn't on the charts, but he was really exceeding safety regulations. That is my own interpretation of the news stories. Also, there was talk of him doing this in order to impress the head waiter (?) whose hometown they were passing by.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical I know, but I can't help but feel kinda sorry for the guy. A lot of us are comically inept, dishonest, craven cowards, but somehow through the grace of god we don't (knock on wood) end up causing the deaths of dozens of people and having our pathetic weakness laid bare before the world.

You honestly think you could not think of a better excuse than "I fell into the lifeboat"?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2012


> Can anyone elaborate on how he caused the crash?

On Monday, the Costa Concordia's owners, Costa Cruises, said Capt Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards Giglio Island.

The rest of the story is he was drunk and had a house on the island or something and wanted to show people it.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was it really pure incompetence that led to the crash? I saw this article about the ship losing power, but it's not clear if that was a result of hitting the rocks or what led to it.

The captain being at the bar isn't unusual, given that there's a staff of other officers all capable of navigating it.
posted by mullingitover at 8:47 PM on January 18, 2012


This guy is a piece of work. The only way this gets worse is if he changes his story yet again and blames the Kilrathi.
posted by m@f at 8:48 PM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


He claims now that he hit a reef that isn't on the charts
Yes, he apparently claimed he hit an uncharted rock 300 meters offshore. Scuba divers, however, claim that he hit a charted rock 95 meters offshore.
posted by Flunkie at 8:48 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also on the same linked article, it shows that he had deviated five miles off their previous course through the region.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:48 PM on January 18, 2012


I think next, he blames Amanda Knox.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:48 PM on January 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


From mrzarquon's link:

"On Monday, the Costa Concordia's owners, Costa Cruises, said Capt Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards Giglio Island.

Prosecutors also claim that he was responsible for the disaster. They say the captain wanted to make a close pass of Giglio in order to "salute" a crew member's family who live there."


What a contemptible tool.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:50 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe I read that cruise liners where suppose to remain.. a mile?... from shore. This struck rock much much closer than that ship was suppose to be.


Frankly I don't have much sympathy for the fellow. I understand the scared part, but if your first inclination is to run in such a situation you are clearly not captain material. Last one alive off the ship. Heroes aren't people that do stupid things, but people who do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of personal consequences.
posted by edgeways at 8:50 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I think the article is talking about "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" Cazzo is vulgar slang for penis, around the obscenity level of an f-bomb in English. ("Get back on board, you little shit!" might be close in essence.)

They're translating all his "Christos" and his "cazzos" as "dammit" in a lot of the English transcripts, I'm not sure why.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:50 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cristo, che cosa un asshole.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:50 PM on January 18, 2012 [27 favorites]


I mean wouldn't it really suck if he did fall into the lifeboat and wanted to get back to the ship but couldn't?

How'd his first mate end up in the lifeboat?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:50 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mean wouldn't it really suck if he did fall into the lifeboat and wanted to get back to the ship but couldn't?

Yeah, that's a nice "what if?" but why was he anywhere near the lifeboats?

I don't know what they do on large passenger-rated ships in a crisis, but the captain probably should have been either on or near the bridge, radio room or at some other kind of command post helping organize and facilitate the evacuation and directing his staff as well as handling emergency communications to rescue teams.

He's supposed to be the last person on board, not first one off. The whole point of a ship captain isn't so much navigation or piloting, but being the person who stays calm and in charge when/if things go, err, belly up.

Yet another reason to never, ever go on one of those floating buffet death traps. Cruise ships are fucking ridiculous from concept to execution.

"Hey, I have a great idea! Let's build an entire skyscraper 1,000 feet tall, but then we'll lay it down on it's side and float it on water, pack it full of land-dwelling tourists who don't know their ass from a stern into tiny rooms with a bare minimum of emergency training, staff it with undereducated defacto slave labor and then add a couple of mediocre buffets and then we'll motor into international waters with engines too small for our tonnage! What could possibly go wrong?"

posted by loquacious at 8:52 PM on January 18, 2012 [28 favorites]


I mean wouldn't it really suck if he did fall into the lifeboat and wanted to get back to the ship but couldn't?
How'd his first mate end up in the lifeboat?
It apparently wasn't just him and the first mate. In the second page of the transcript linked to in the post, he is quoted as saying "all the officers have gathered on the rescue boat with me".
posted by Flunkie at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


♬♬♬
I'm on a boat. I'm on a boat.
Everybody look at me.
Cause I'm sailing on a boat.

[ 10 minutes later ]

I'm on a boat. I'm on a boat.
Take a good hard look.
At the motherfucking boat.
♬♬♬
posted by Fizz at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Route of the ship, and the previous route it took.
posted by Jimbob at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


A cardinal rule of coast-wise navigation is that one never takes a vessel into an area you don't know. He was FOUR MILES off course. He overrode the alarms on the bridge, and conned his ship away from the known channel onto the frikken rocks. There is a reason that the expression "uncharted waters" exists. I wouldn't have taken a dinghy where he did if I didn't know the area.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


f your first inclination is to run in such a situation you are clearly not captain material. Last one alive off the ship.

To put things in less heroic terms, the captain should have stayed on ship to coordinate rescue efforts.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Italy has spectacularly institutionalized nepotism and corruption, bearwife, almost surely this guy got his job through family connections, like everybody else working in Italy.

Did you ever notice how many young Italians live abroad, especially technical people, academics, etc.? I'll promise you they didn't move abroad because they liked the food.

Italy elected the kleptocrat Berlusconi for decades because the left wing parties couldn't form a coalition, mostly because the old morons running all the left wing parties hated one another enough they couldn't form a coalition.. And that occurred mostly because the old moron who runs an Italian party cannot be fired even when they lose their own elections.

Americans lament how schmoozing baboons so frequently run our corporations, but well such hustlers aren't quite as incompetent as what you get if you hire completely based upon family.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:54 PM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


incidentally he does remind me of Dr. Benway.. without the panache
posted by edgeways at 8:57 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


> "all the officers have gathered on the rescue boat with me".

Jesus Fucking Christ.

It's an emergency. Quick, lets take all the people in authority and get them off the ship before they can have a chance to tell the rest of the crew what they should be doing. More importantly, give them guidance as things change. One of the reasons why Seniority Matters in sailing is because the older you are, the more experience you have, the better equipment you can be to lead others and help them in emergency situations. You don't have time to think or spitball ideas.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:00 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Captain Stubing would never have bailed on his passengers like that. Or ran the love boat onto the rocks in the first place for that matter. Schettino is the polar opposite of Sullenberger.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


This BBC news article has a diagram and explanation of "how the crash happened" according to current understanding. It shows how far this island is off the prescribed route.

another BBC article with diagram of route the ship took, similar to another "off route" pass it made close to the island in August - this article includes a diagram of how the ship is sitting in a precarious position from which it could slide into much deeper water.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Okay, so the captain was...

But, does it make sense for the other guy, De Falco, to berate the captain for five minutes? I mean, when is it time to just give up on the guy and get on with the job?
posted by Chuckles at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


He caused the crash, ignored the peril, fled early from the ship and had to be shamed into returning, and has lied until caught about almost everything.

Sounds like he would've prospered in the Bush administration.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


FRANCESCO SCHETTINO (voice is hoarse from screaming): I...was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader! Someone to lead the way to safety.

ROBIN: But you yelled "get out of my way"!

FRANCESCO SCHETTINO: Because! Because, as the leader...if I die...then all hope is lost! Who would lead? The clown? Instead of castigating me, you should all be thanking me. What kind of a topsy-turvy world do we live in, where-where heroes are cast as villains? Brave men as cowards?

ROBIN: But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic! I saw you knock them down! And when you ran out, you left everyone behind!

FRANCESCO SCHETTINO: Seemingly. Seemingly, to the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushing...what looked like knocking down...was a safety precaution! In a fire, you stay close to the ground, am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind! Oh, quite the contrary! I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?

COAST GUARD: How do you live with yourself?

FRANCESCO SCHETTINO: It's not easy.
posted by crunchland at 9:03 PM on January 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


The rest of the story is he was drunk and had a house on the island or something and wanted to show people it.

No, he was doing a "close pass." I saw a video report on the ABC Evening News (still available on iTunes podcasts if you want to see it) that has a video of the same ship doing the same close pass in the same spot, on a previous cruise.

The close pass is a stunt they like to pull to impress the passengers and the islanders. They light up every light on the ship, and drive as close to the island as they can, as fast as they can. The lights are so bright they can see the island clearly from the ship. And you can see the ship from anywhere on the island.

So the captain was pulling a stunt, to show off. And he got people killed. This is beyond negligence.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:05 PM on January 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


I like Letterman's line: "He said he tripped and fell into a dress and a wig also before he fell into the life raft. And his luggage also tripped and fell in right after him."
posted by anothermug at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


incidentally he does remind me of Dr. Benway.. without the panache

Or the heroin
posted by philip-random at 9:07 PM on January 18, 2012


I'm trying to imagine if it's possible for there to be an uncharted...anything within a mile of the Italian coast, which has been sailed and explored and charted for several thousand years.
posted by rtha at 9:10 PM on January 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


But, does it make sense for the other guy, De Falco, to berate the captain for five minutes? I mean, when is it time to just give up on the guy and get on with the job?

In theory, the captain still knows more about the ship and its crew than anyone. If you can shake him out of his panic, he could be invaluable.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:12 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Language Log has an article on "Vada a bordo, cazzo!", for fans of Italian swearing.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:12 PM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I was gonna say only Captain Larry David would trip and fall into a lifeboat causing this huge misunderstanding, but maybe Captain Costanza works better.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:13 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


captain now says he was navigating by sight and ordered a turn too late, and that he had taken the ship close to the island "to salute a former captain who had a home" there.

"I was navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this manoeuvre three or four times," he reportedly said.

"But this time I ordered the turn too late and I ended up in water that was too shallow. I don't know why it happened."

posted by LobsterMitten at 9:16 PM on January 18, 2012


Somewhere, Joseph Hazelwood sighs in relief as the new champion for Worst Captain Ever is crowned.
posted by dr_dank at 9:21 PM on January 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.

Not to make light of this, but he the situation was basically this.

I can empathize with cowardice as much as the next guy, but he caused the wreck and tried to slink away and then lied about it while shirking his duties while people were dying. So yeah, the level of opprobrium is going to be about at that level.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:25 PM on January 18, 2012


I once hit a reef while captaining a ship (well, a kayak, but the underlying principle is the same) very close to the beach too. I can vouch for the fact that it is very hard to get back on board, especially if your wife or coast guard is yelling at you.
posted by vidur at 9:25 PM on January 18, 2012 [38 favorites]


Get your "Vada a bordo, cazzo!" T-shirts here.
posted by dr. boludo at 9:28 PM on January 18, 2012


I was initially rooting for the captain - the rescue had barely begun before the cruise line revealed thei first priority was to rushed in to blame him, trying to dodge all liability and save their own hide at their captain's expense.

It seems quite plausible that he was within rights to chart a course that maximised the view for the passengers and the islanders, and that the maritime maps failed him.

But the more that comes out, the more it seems pretty clear that he did fail, and spectacularly. The guy is toast, there will be no escape for him.

But that cruise line is also a nasty bit of work. I guess they probably all are, and Costa Cruises merely had the fate of having its true colors revealed.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:30 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's definitely no Sully.
posted by cherrybounce at 9:32 PM on January 18, 2012


When That Great Ship Went Down - Pink Anderson

When That Great Ship Went Down - Woodie Guthrie
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:32 PM on January 18, 2012


This was a terrible event. There is much we don't know at this point. The public lynching of this guy in the media is premature. The time may come that there will be justification for his crucifixion, but I don't think we're at that point yet in terms of facts and information.
posted by HuronBob at 9:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, the poltroonery!
posted by unregistered_animagus at 9:36 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This whole story got me thinking about the stewardesses and stewards who are trained to save lives and get passengers to safety when something happens on a plane. Those are everyday heroes (so think about that the next time you bark for an extra pillow). This Captain? I can't fathom (pun alert!) his actions.
posted by helmutdog at 9:46 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


That man sounds drunk. He responds with bizarre cordiality at the beginning of the call, as if it's a cocktail party, and his subsequent answers trail off in a weird way I associate with drunks.

What kind of stupid organization is the cruise line that the first thing they did when that man got ashore was NOT to give him an immediate test for drugs and alcohol? I would assume that would be standard in such a situation, but in reading the news articles I could find apparently it's not.

I am never going on a cruise.
posted by winna at 9:59 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's something about over-confidence in one's abilities mixed with the gigantic rush it must be to have a huge ship at one's command. Does it encourage hubris?

Something very similar to this Italian accident happened one time on the Washington State ferry system, luckily without loss of life or injury,:

On Oct. 2, 1983, Captain Billy Fittro made an unauthorized swing into Grindstone Harbor to give an Orcas Island resident a waterside view of her home from the Elwha's wheelhouse. During the excursion, the Elwha hit a reef, ran aground and was damaged at a total of $250,000. Captain Fittro eventually resigned and his supervisor, Captain Nick Tracy, was fired for trying to cover up the incident. In 1989 the reef the vessel hit was officially named "Elwha Rock".

Ref. What did I do without Wikipedia there for a while?
posted by Rumple at 10:05 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This Captain? I can't fathom (pun alert!) his actions.

I guess you could say he was...out of his league.
posted by cortex at 10:05 PM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


YEEEEEEEEEEAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:07 PM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Twenty years hence, the ellipses mark will be known primarily as "sunglasses".
posted by cortex at 10:10 PM on January 18, 2012 [27 favorites]


The whole thing seems far more like Lord Jim than the Titanic (Captain Smith did go down with his ship), down to the ending up in the lifeboat by mistake.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was a terrible event. There is much we don't know at this point. The public lynching of this guy in the media is premature. The time may come that there will be justification for his crucifixion, but I don't think we're at that point yet in terms of facts and information.

Things we know:
- He drove the ship off course, into rocks, sinking the ship.
- 11 people died.
- He didn't take actions that could have helped the situation, such as lowering the anchor to stabilize the ship, but lied and said that he did.
- He left the ship, instead of staying to organize rescue efforts.

Things that are unconfirmed, and we are waiting to find out before we can really pass judgment:
- Was the ship damaged when it sailed through a flock of geese shortly after leaving port? Was this actually a heroic water landing of the vessel?
- Did he order the Chinese theme night at the buffet to cook and serve giant pandas?
- Was he, in fact, the author of several key provisions in SOPA/PIPA?
- Was this merely an attempt to save money in barnacle-removal gone terribly awry?
- Did he short sell the stock of the cruise line and crash the ship to make a profit? If he had failed in this, was his plan B to beat a suave British secret agent in a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro?
- Were the secret, unreleased master tapes of the fourth seasons of Community and Arrested Development stored below deck and are now lost to the sea?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:19 PM on January 18, 2012 [36 favorites]


And then there's the 1991 tale of the Oceanos, complete with dramatic narration.

Passengers aboard the cruise ship Oceanos begin to panic when the ship starts sinking. To make matters worse, the captain and most of the crew have already abandoned ship, leaving them to die.
posted by philip-random at 10:25 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm embarassed that his second in command was Greek.
posted by phaedon at 10:27 PM on January 18, 2012


These cruise ships are disasters waiting to happen. Not because of drunk captains, though that's certainly a factor, but because they are crewed almost exclusively by foreign nationals with no training at all besides pouring drinks and doing laundry. They're all Peruvians and Ecuadorians and the like, and they're held in near-slavery conditions, not permitted to go ashore at any of the ports for months or even years at a time, paid ridiculous wages, and always under conditions that are controlled not by the labor laws of the countries they operate in but by special rules for cruise ships in the dubious places they are registered, like Liberia.

I can't imagine a worse way to see the beautiful Italian coast, anyways. Sure, you get lots of liquor, and nasty steam-table food served on fancy china, but the "luxury" is completely bogus and you learn nothing of the places you supposedly visit.

I suppose if Hank Kingsley is the on-board entertainment, it's worth it....
posted by Fnarf at 10:29 PM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


In Italy they're selling T-shirts.

By the way, he's been charged with manslaughter. I don't think they'll have too much difficulty getting a conviction.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:34 PM on January 18, 2012


These cruise ships are disasters waiting to happen. Not because of drunk captains, though that's certainly a factor, but because they are crewed almost exclusively by foreign nationals with no training at all besides pouring drinks and doing laundry.

Do you mean to say that the engineers running the ship are not actually engineers? Or that there is no safety training provided to the crew? Or something else entirely?

Incidentally, what does "foreign nationals" even mean in this context? Ships of all types (except the navies) these days have an international crew.
posted by vidur at 10:39 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a foreign national myself.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's sort of interesting how "the captain goes down with the ship" is such a strong cultural norm. Like, the level of opprobrium this guy's been getting is almost like how people react to rapists and murderers.

You are in charge. You don't get to stop being in charge in an emergency. That's the exact moment you are required to be present. So, if his vacating his post caused more confusion and people died, he's liable for the deaths.

But if you crash into the rock yourself through negligence, nothing will help you.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:49 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine if it's possible for there to be an uncharted...anything within a mile of the Italian coast

While I wouldn't expect a reef to move around much, shoals (up to and including large piles of rocks) can and do move around. So it's not implausible that a certain route might have been fine for the last six passes, but suddenly isn't, particularly if there was a storm or something in the interim that caused the sea floor to change.

So an "uncharted" shoal or rock isn't necessarily something that managed to slip by generations of navigators, but just something that shifted since the last time the charts were updated.

But this is all Sailing 101 — hell, it's like the first hour of the first class, the one before you get to go out in a dinghy — so I think that it's somewhat unlikely as the source of the error. What seems likely to me, just as the simplest explanation that fits the facts that have come out so far, is that the Captain took direct command of the vessel and was navigating based on previous experience, and screwed up. He wasn't where he thought he was, and just flat-out ran them onto the rocks. Obviously, that is bad. The sheer obviousness of it might explain (though certainly not excuse) his apparently panicky, chickenshit actions afterwards.

What I'd be interested to know is who else was on the bridge at the time, and what kind of command climate prohibited one of the other officers — presuming that there was somebody watching the plotter — from speaking up and saying "uh, sir, you're about to put us on the goddamn rocks, are you sure that's a good idea." If there were others around in that position, it's yet another failure on the part of the Captain, and frankly I'd almost argue that it's the more serious one. Anyone can make a navigational error; where that becomes fatal is when it's compounded by an error in judgement (taking direct control in the first place, thus really raising the stakes) and in leadership (creating a climate where others weren't comfortable questioning what was going on, or where the people who could do that weren't around to do so).
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:53 PM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Or that there is no safety training provided to the crew?

From Tina Fey's Bossypants, which is clearly an authoritative source on maritime practices (she was once on a cruise ship when a fire broke out):

"In the event of an emergency, it is the entertainers who are in charge of the lifeboats. Because the rest of the crew has actual nautical duties, the kids from Fiesta Caliente are trained to man the lifeboats. If you ever have to get on a lifeboat, the person in charge of your safety will likely be a nineteen-year-old dancer from Tampa who just had a fight with his boyfriend about the new Rihanna video."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:55 PM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Do you mean to say that the engineers running the ship are not actually engineers? Or that there is no safety training provided to the crew?

The latter. Engineers? Sure. But 99% of the people running around the ship are not engineers or pilots; they're terrified semi-slaves who know from experience that if they say anything to anybody about anything they'll be fired immediately, and they have less idea what to do in an emergency than some of the passengers.

"Foreign national" means simply that they're not citizens or even legal visitors of the country of registry or any of the countries the ship is visiting. They don't even have passports; those are probably locked in a safe somewhere.

The cruise ship industry is completely, utterly dirty. The crews of the ships that call at Seattle, where I am from, can't come ashore and earn something like a dollar an hour. And they illegally dump waste all the time, because on the small chance they get caught the fine is a trivial amount, less than it costs to process waste legally.
posted by Fnarf at 10:57 PM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


According to this Daily Beast article, passengers were calling the mainland for help well before the boat capsized:

Several passengers told The Daily Beast they felt a “shuffling sound” as the electricity went out. Some passengers even called the emergency services on the mainland. But Schettino seemed in denial. After calls by passengers, Giorgio De Falco who was heading up the emergency services of the Port Authority in Livorno, reached out to the Concordia. “Everything OK?” he asked. Schettino lied and said yes, that they’d had an electrical problem but that they had solved it. Had Schettino told the truth at that moment, when he surely knew the impact had done damage to the ship, an evacuation could have begun before the ship started listing, and all the passengers might have been saved.
posted by biddeford at 10:57 PM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


"In the event of an emergency, it is the entertainers who are in charge of the lifeboats."

We've heard from this recent disaster that even that joke is optimistic. Most of the lifeboats were not manned at all, and the passengers were left to themselves to figure out how to release them -- a task they were unable to figure out, unsurprisingly.
posted by Fnarf at 10:59 PM on January 18, 2012


This Wired article about salvaging a container ship (previously) does an impressive job of conveying the sheer fucking horror that comes with moving around a gigantic, capsizing vessel.

It's a wonder that the passengers assembled and organized as well as they did, and that so many lives were saved—no thanks to Schettino.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:09 PM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


I frankly don't think he was necessarily drunk. Nor do I believe he fled in fear of his life. What he fled was his responsability: The trouble wasn't so much his lack of physical courage, but rather his lack of moral courage.
According to the investigation so far, he spent the crucial first hour after the accident on the phone with the cruise line's marine operations director. You can bet that he already got an earful during that call.
Consider his situation: because of sheer braggadocio, he had just made a career-ending mistake. Not just any small mistake: a €450 million mistake. The sort of mistake that ensures that he wouldn't be let anywhere near not just a cruise liner, but even a small boat. Under this conditions, he had then to organize the orderly evacuation of 4000 people from a sinking ship. No wonder he went first in denial, then into shock. I believe, however, that there aren't that many people who would have the moral fibre to respond adequately.
posted by Skeptic at 11:14 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I tripped and fell": it's not just for things stuck in your ass!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:20 AM on January 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


I guess you could say he was...out of his league.

Really plumbing the depths of bad puns here.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 12:20 AM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Foreign national" means simply that they're not citizens or even legal visitors of the country of registry or any of the countries the ship is visiting.

That's everyone. The ships are registered in tiny-ass countries without the people to fill them even if they wanted to, and the only reason any of the passengers manage to be from a country the ship is visiting is because they had to physically board the thing at some point.

I get that you're saying the industry is dirty, but putting foreign nationals in that context comes across as offensive.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:22 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


you know it's a good thread when someone is able to use the word 'poltroon', in context.

here is a truly astonishing set of photos, from msnbc. the slideshow.. the scale of this is just incredible. the hull is just.. shredded.
posted by ninjew at 12:22 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


But, does it make sense for the other guy, De Falco, to berate the captain for five minutes? I mean, when is it time to just give up on the guy and get on with the job?

Yeah, I'm not really seeing De Falco as a hero. He's more of a human catharsis.

Taking a devil's advocate view, what if somehow the Captian did have an explainable reason for being in the lifeboat? You wouldn't know, because De Falco interrupted him constantly. He asked him tons of questions and didn't let him finish the answer to one. Yes, the Captain was sputtering and not sounding very leaderly, but who wouldn't be shaken up and decidedly not eloquent in such an event?

My point is, (Devil's Advocate mode off) I don't think De Falco handled this very impressively. The Captain was trying to explain that he was going to have trouble reboarding and De Falco insulted him with meaningless showmanship. But of course that's all a very minor issue compared to the mind-boggling actions of the captain.
posted by mreleganza at 12:24 AM on January 19, 2012


You wouldn't know, because De Falco interrupted him constantly.

I kept waiting for the bit where Schettino explains his situation or incriminates himself, but it never really came because De Falco wouldn't let him get more than two words in edgewise. I assumed De Falco had prior knowledge not available to us, but maybe he just wasn't handling things optimally either.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:29 AM on January 19, 2012


As I get older, it becomes clear that almost everyone in a position of authority is, odds on, an incompetent asshole.
posted by maxwelton at 12:30 AM on January 19, 2012 [22 favorites]


the slideshow..

If someone wants a lot of hits on their blog, copy some of these photos, rotate them so the ship is level and normal and it's the sea that has gone crazy, crop to match, repost as as a set.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:38 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I'd be interested to know is who else was on the bridge at the time

According to this morning's Corriere della Sera, there was a 25-year-old Moldvian girl called Domnika who doesn't appear on any crew or passenger lists
posted by aqsakal at 12:44 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


He asked him tons of questions and didn't let him finish the answer to one.

I thought De Falco handled it well. He was furious at the Captain and was trying to shame him into doing his job. He was asking him how many people on board, how many deaths. Schettino mumbled something about having heard about one or two deaths. He knew the Captain didn't have the answers. That was his point. He told him to get back on board and get the answers to those questions.

When the Captain said it was dark, he shamed him again. "It's dark and you want to go back home? Get back on that ship and tell me how many people there are and what they need. Now!"
posted by eye of newt at 12:51 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I assumed De Falco had prior knowledge not available to us, but maybe he just wasn't handling things optimally either.

Accidents like this do not happen in a couple of minutes. My guess is that by the time of the conversation in question the two men have already communicated several times - the point is not to find out what is actually happening, but to shock the captain into action.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:28 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I may have misread but was it De Falco who had earlier contacted the ship and been told by Schettino that everything was fine, just an electrical fault? I might be a tad miffed to then learn that a) the electrical fault was a SINKING SHIP and b) the captain had left 4,000 people onboard to their fate.

(I'm not defending his hero status; I don't have a horse in this race. I can see where his end of the conversation comes from.)
posted by tracicle at 1:28 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding that this tragedy reminds me a lot of Lord Jim, the captain's abandonment of the Patna.

Apparently, the Costa Concordia sailed even closer to Giglio last August, than it did when it sank.

Diagrams of how the disaster unfolded. The 6th image is interesting, about the possibility of fuel leaking into the "cleanest and most transparent sea in Italy". I wonder how the hell they will get the ship out of there?
posted by nickyskye at 1:30 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


He tripped and fell into a lifeboat? And he has no idea how that sounds? Man, that's some deep denial.
posted by Decani at 1:31 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tripping and falling into the lifeboat reminds me of those stories from the ER where people come in with strange objects lodged in their rectums and claim they fell in the shower. What a colossal fuckup.
posted by Forktine at 1:39 AM on January 19, 2012


nickyskye's interactive graphic is splendid. Thanks!

And thanks also to benito.strauss's link for the short explanation on the formal / informal "you" as well as swearing in Italian.
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:46 AM on January 19, 2012


Apparently, the Costa Concordia sailed even closer to Giglio last August, than it did when it sank.

Hah,Nicky! I saw that earlier, and then thought about where this dipstick beached his boat.

It's really hard to see how any previous mis-adventures not resulting in actual shipwreck could have been any closer.

Seconding the thanks for fabulously informing graphic.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:57 AM on January 19, 2012


Taking a devil's advocate view, what if somehow the Captian did have an explainable reason for being in the lifeboat? You wouldn't know, because De Falco interrupted him constantly. He asked him tons of questions and didn't let him finish the answer to one. Yes, the Captain was sputtering and not sounding very leaderly, but who wouldn't be shaken up and decidedly not eloquent in such an event?

Yes, Falco was clearly showboating (oh the puns) here, but it's also clear to me that they've been speaking to each other for an hour before that, and that the entire recording was to get the guy to coordinate stuff from the deck. I mean, you have a situation where the Coast Guard has already landed on the ship and apparently no one was in charge.

Malice (ie this guy apparently trying to escape, which, as I see it, wasnt immediately evident from the recording) aside, the situation here is that the first and second in command's are apparently trying to get one lifeboat away while not directing rescue efforts. I'm no sailor, but from what little I know about project management, that's a massive leadership vacuum; that the captain's training didn't start kicking in is a sign of not just personal incompetence, but organizational incompetence.
posted by the cydonian at 2:06 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's really hard to see how any previous mis-adventures not resulting in actual shipwreck could have been any closer.

Apparently (and if you look at the map showing the ship's course that is linked above), he was sailing close to the island, but when the boat hit the reef, then the captain turned to get as close as possible to make the evacuation/rescue easier. So the picture of the ship so close to the shore is only as a result of the post-crash emergency maneouver - that's not how close he was when he hit the rock.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:06 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Capt. Gregorio De Falco will be played by Sir Ben in the film adaptation.

It's been a while since I've seen "Sexy Beast" or any of his more badass roles, but I'm not sure Kingsley has it in him (despite his spot-on resemblance) to be this much of a stern (ahem) taskmaster. The guy on the recording was AWESOME. We need a Gene Hackman level badass here, I think.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:13 AM on January 19, 2012


Apparently, the Costa Concordia sailed even closer to Giglio last August, than it did when it sank.

Although crucially, this time he was much closer to the nasty jagged tooth of an outcropping known as Isola le Scole. Islands aren't uniform things all the way around.

My guess is that by the time of the conversation in question the two men have already communicated several times

Viz. "You've been telling me that for an hour!"

that the captain's training didn't start kicking in is a sign of not just personal incompetence, but organizational incompetence.

Indeed. Very ominous. Airline pilots, when things aren't going well, start looking again at their checklists and going over switch settings.

What I'd be interested to know is who else was on the bridge at the time, and what kind of command climate prohibited one of the other officers — presuming that there was somebody watching the plotter — from speaking up and saying "uh, sir, you're about to put us on the goddamn rocks, are you sure that's a good idea."

Yeah, failure of crew resource management here. All of these individuals are going to be interviewed and deposed.

It has been reported that the headwaiter who was the object of the "favor" of a close pass, due to having relatives on Giglio, had said something about being so close.

Falco was clearly showboating

I don't agree. De Falco is in Livorno, on the mainland, something like 100 miles away. What he should be able to do is get timely, accurate updates on the sitch from the guy on site, and he ain't gettin' it.

Imagine if in Apollo 13 Bill Paxton were not Fred Haise, but Private Hudson. "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?"
posted by dhartung at 2:19 AM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


According to this morning's Corriere della Sera, there was a 25-year-old Moldvian girl called Domnika who doesn't appear on any crew or passenger lists

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, just when one thought Schettino's reputation couldn't sink any deeper...
posted by Skeptic at 2:22 AM on January 19, 2012


"Vada a bordo, cazzo!" means 'Get back on board, dammit' (or 'Get back on board, for fuck's sake'). He wasn't calling the captain a 'dickhead' as others have said.

I lived in Italy for 20 years.
posted by marcdalessio at 2:24 AM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm embarassed that his second in command was Greek.

In which case you really don't want to follow philip-random's link to the story of the Oceanos. After an explosion below deck started to cause flooding, the Captain, Yiannis Avranas, failed to order the closing of the lower deck portholes or even raise an alarm, but instead went with colleagues to pack their bags, leaving the entertainers (who were actually last off the ship) to help the passengers.

Avranas was reported by the helicopter crew to have elbowed elderly passengers aside to be first off the ship. He later said "When I give the order abandon ship, it doesn't matter what time I leave. Abandon is for everybody. If some people want to stay, they can stay." At least Schettino had the decency to sound sheepish when he was confronted.

(that could have been an FPP!)
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:24 AM on January 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ah, the Language Log was fascinating as always. One of the comments there, from an Italian himself, asserts that Fablo announcing that the call was being recorded, "was interpreted [in Italy] as an act of politeness, to prevent the distressed Schettino from saying things he might regret even more". If I was in Schettino's position, with me with my Indian/ Singaporean/ International brain, I'd have taken that as a hint to briefly, but succinctly, summarize the problem and detail the actions I'm taking. Not saying one is better than other, I'm not in the shipping business so I don't know things should be done, merely how I'd have done within the context of a recorded conversation.

That and the insight that "the fuck" in "what the fuck is that?" is a pseudo-object... Brilliant stuff. Never really thought about sentence constructions with cuss words, I guess.
posted by the cydonian at 2:27 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Falco was clearly showboating

I don't agree. De Falco is in Livorno, on the mainland, something like 100 miles away.


It's details such as that add context and change everything. :)

Even without that though, I was indeed a bit harsh in saying that; kinda regretted it immediately after hitting post. What I meant to say then was, it was apparent Fablo was trying to follow the book and was hinting to Schettino that he ought to be visibly doing so too.

Imagine if in Apollo 13 Bill Paxton were not Fred Haise, but Private Hudson. "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the fuck are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?"

Seen the movie, but that just flew over my head. :)
posted by the cydonian at 2:36 AM on January 19, 2012


Viz. "You've been telling me that for an hour!"

Um, that to me sounds like an exaggeration on De Falco's end. Actually, from the looks of it, this was a pretty quick conversation, unless there was editing going on in the FPP's clip. At the 0:41 mark De Falco and Schettino are exchanging introductions and two minutes later, De Falco is using the phrase "You've been telling me that for an hour!" I recognize this as a Mediterranean form of exaggeration.

But before the conversation even takes places, it seems De Falco is fully aware of how fucked up the situation is. What does he mean, by "I was supposed to call the prosecutor, fuck!" And it follows, I think, that the question I think some people are raising here is, if this is their first conversation, why is it that De Falco is flying off the handle from the get-go. How did he peg Schettino so quickly?
posted by phaedon at 3:00 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


VALENTINA Capuano could not believe it when the luxury cruise ship she was on began to sink - she only hoped that she would be saved like her grandmother, who survived the Titanic disaster, 100 years ago.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:08 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My thoughts too, phaedon. People have been responding to my earlier questioning of how De Falco handled this by pointing out that they had already been in communication, but if so, it seems kind of - I don't know, weird - that there was that whole bit in the beginning with, "Is this the Captain? What's your name? Schettino? Okay. Listen, Schettino..."
posted by mreleganza at 3:09 AM on January 19, 2012


Seen the movie, but that just flew over my head. :)

That's because Bill Paxton says "Game over man!" in Aliens, not Apollo 13. /facepalm
posted by phaedon at 3:17 AM on January 19, 2012


CNN: When I first heard about the Costa Concordia, I thought back to the guidance that Alexander Hamilton provided in 1790 to the captains of the first 10 cutters of the U.S. Revenue Marine -- the precursor to the Coast Guard. Hamilton advised that they had been "selected with careful attention to character" and told them to "Refrain from haughtiness, rudeness, or insult" and to "Endeavor to overcome difficulties by a cool and temperate perseverance in your duty." He declared that a captain's demeanor and behavior must "be marked with prudence, moderation, and good temper. Upon these qualities must depend the success, usefulness and ... continuance of the establishment in which they are included."

An off duty captain, Roberto Bosio, happened to be on board the Costa Concordia when it ran aground and swung into action, helping dozens of women and children into lifeboats. He has been called a hero in the Italian press, but rejects the moniker. "Don't call me a hero. I just did my duty, the duty of a sea captain," he said. Captain Bosio met Alexander Hamilton's charge. Captain Schettino failed to do so in every imaginable way.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:35 AM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Holy shades of Exxon Valdez, man. Now watch as that ship's fuel and bilge tanks ruin that piece of coastline, to add to the toll.

But I hold Carnival Cruise Lines ultimately responsible, although as far as I am concerned Schettino can rot in jail too. The Captain was a cowardly, incompetent fool, very obviously. But you don't apply for the job of "captain of a huge ship full of people" fresh out of college and hope for on the job training. You don't go from captaining a sailboat to captaining a city on water. There are steps and stages along the way. Your competence, sobriety, and courage are supposed to be tested along the way. How did this yellow bellied douchebag wind up in charge of his own dinner selections, let alone a ship full of people?

Not everyone is Sully Sullenberger, heroically walking the aisles of our miraculously landed and now sinking airplane one last time, looking for any stragglers as water pours in from the hatches. Most of us aren't that, although most of us would at least do our duty to the best of our ability, I think, even in a crisis. But the people flying commercial passenger airplanes and captaining commercial passenger ships generally must meet pretty high standards of prior experience, conduct, and character. We expect that as paying passengers. We assume it.

Carnival should face serious criminal sanctions and major lawsuits if there is any prior evidence of incompetence or cowardice in this asshole's dossier.
posted by spitbull at 3:56 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know, weird - that there was that whole bit in the beginning with, "Is this the Captain? What's your name? Schettino? Okay. Listen, Schettino..."

I took that to be for the benefit of the recording. The subtext of whole start of the conversation seems to me to be De Falco has been frustrated with his dealings with Schettino so far, and is now coming for another run at it. The recording itself seems to me to be a lever; a "look, it's not just me you're talking to now, everyone will here what your saying" thing with perhaps tones of "come on man, get it together, this is the real deal now".
posted by adamt at 3:58 AM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


As I get older, it becomes clear that almost everyone in a position of authority is, odds on, an incompetent asshole.

Apparently, The Peter Principle has passed from modern consciousness.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:59 AM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ha ha, you can already get t-shirts with "Vada a Borda, CAZZO!" on them.

We have a new meme.
posted by spitbull at 4:05 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


More sad stories emerge, including that of the Hungarian violinist (an entertainer on the ship) who died going back for his violin, and the sad tale of a missing 5 year old girl, buried in this lurid story about the mysterious Dominica Cemortan, the "young Moldovan woman" who "worked" for the cruise line and may have been on the bridge during the accident as a guest of an officer, possibly Schettino. She was either a "passenger relations specialist" or a "dancer," according to various reports.

Yeah, right.

Shades of Silvio Berlusconi. I'll be surprised if the Italian press doesn't run with the metaphor.
posted by spitbull at 4:11 AM on January 19, 2012


Oh, that last link includes this gem:

Mario Palombo, a former Costa commander and colleague of the captain, said: “I’ve always had my reservations about Schettino. It’s true, he was my second in command, but he was too exuberant; a daredevil. More than once I had to put him in his place.”


This cruise line needs to be out of business.
posted by spitbull at 4:14 AM on January 19, 2012


Seems we have found the word that is opposite of
SULLY.


SCHETTINO.



Are you more sully? Or are you schettino?
posted by rare_g at 4:25 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


..buried in this lurid story about the mysterious Dominica Cemortan, the "young Moldovan woman" who "worked" for the cruise line and may have been on the bridge during the accident as a guest of an officer, possibly Schettino. She was either a "passenger relations specialist" or a "dancer," according to various reports.

Yeah, right.


You gotta love her quote, "He is very skilful and experienced when it comes to manoeuvring the ship in enclosed spaces, like harbours.” I hesitate to call that by the common journalistic term, "nut graf."

But that excuse will go down in legend, “I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60 to 70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself there.” It reminds me of an old story about the legendarily absent-minded mathematics professor Norbert Weiner. He was driving along a country road and apparently while lost in thought, drove off the road straight into a telephone pole. When the Highway Patrolman asked him what happened, he said, "The telephone poles were passing my car in an orderly fashion, when suddenly, they swerved!"
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:37 AM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


He caused the crash, ignored the peril, fled early from the ship and had to be shamed into returning,

Which, as far as I understand, didn't succeed, and he did not return to the boat.
posted by jeather at 4:49 AM on January 19, 2012


If I was a passenger I really don't think I'd mind that the drunk, incompetent captain who crashed the ship didn't stay behind to help coordinate the evacuation...
posted by Praxis at 5:14 AM on January 19, 2012


Is craven coward a redundancy?
posted by mikelieman at 5:15 AM on January 19, 2012


I always wondered what happened to Inspector Clouseau's Italian son after that dreadful film.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 5:17 AM on January 19, 2012


Wait, don't tell me. His wife is Morgan Fairchild, who he's seen naked.
posted by tommasz at 5:22 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost makes you wish that keelhauling was still a thing.
posted by indubitable at 5:36 AM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Eponysterical I know, but I can't help but feel kinda sorry for the guy. A lot of us are comically inept, dishonest, craven cowards, but somehow through the grace of god we don't (knock on wood) end up causing the deaths of dozens of people and having our pathetic weakness laid bare before the world.

It's all a matter of the kinds of responsibility you accept.
posted by entropone at 5:48 AM on January 19, 2012


It's all a matter of the kinds of responsibility you accept.

The amount of responsibility I'm willing to accept is very low.

My friend: I'm going to go to the bathroom before the movie starts, will you watch my popcorn and this bag of M&Ms?
Me: FUCK NO!!! WHAT IF THERE'S A FIRE OR A BUNCH OF TEENAGERS START TO HARASS ME BECAUSE YOU'RE GONE. YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!
posted by Fizz at 5:55 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The comments about the captain having a responsibility to stay and direct an evacuation are right on. A captain does not go down with the ship but he (or she) is the last off. In US law a captain is legally responsible tor the ship and everything that happens. Even if Tyre captain is asleep in his rack and another sailor is st the helm and runs aground, it is ultimately the captain' responsibility. He is the one who qualified the person at the helm, the one who made the call that they could drive.
posted by lyra4 at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2012




phaedon: That's because Bill Paxton says "Game over man!" in Aliens, not Apollo 13. /facepalm

dhartung is comparing the actions of the incompotent Captain to the panicky Private Hudson (in Aliens, played by Bill Paxton) to the cool and collected astronaut Fred Haise (in Apollo 13, as played by Bill Paxton).

It was obvious to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think that's the thing: being in the chain of command of a ship means, whether legally or morally, that you have accepted the responsibility for the lives of the passengers and crew. And it isn't [shouldn't be?] just handing a guy a new hat and the good clipboard. I don't expect a captain to necessarily go down with the ship while standing at attention and saluting the Queen, but I do expect him or her to be the LAST one to jump off.

On the other hand, if the ship was listing like that at the time, it seems possible that there was no other choice but to fall off.

On the other, other hand, it sounds like not wanting to get back on the ship is the least of his failed duties. It's not like something that big just tips over. It takes time, that probably could have been used better coordinating the evacuation.

Coming back around again, the fact that so few people died might be a sign that some things did go right.

(also, as to the foreign national thing, the point I heard is that the language barrier is the problem. From giving orders to move this direction to another, or the people in the bowels of the ship calling up to say "there is a big hole", not being able to understand each other is going to mean added danger.)
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on January 19, 2012


"In fact, nowhere in maritime law does it state that a captain must die with his ship, merely to remain until all souls have been accounted for, but the myth persists..."
posted by crunchland at 6:54 AM on January 19, 2012


By that definition, crunchland, he should still be on the ship.
posted by tommasz at 7:14 AM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell, what De Falco says at that point is "Ritorni a bordo, cazzo". Cazzo means penis, in a very pejorative way. You can call somebody a cazzo, as in "Questo e' un cazzo" translated as "This person is a fuckwad". Or you could use it, as I think it is used by De Falco as "Get back on board, damnit" but of course it is a lot stronger than damnit, and I cannot think of a equivalent word in American. Anyway, the coast guard spokeperson says cazzo a lot of times.
posted by francesca too at 7:23 AM on January 19, 2012


How about 'Get back on board you prick' for a translation?
posted by zeoslap at 7:26 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I personally know one person who was rescued at sea. She was nine years old. It was a barely (and then not) seaworthy boat sailing from Saigon to Australia. The engine broke and they radio'd out an S.O.S. Another (civilian) boat came by. The engineers from the second boat worked on the vessel in distress for a couple of hours, but it was ultimately no use. They then evacuated the packed distressed boat's passengers onto the first boat. When they began it was unclear if there was going to be room on the functioning boat for all of the people. They put all the children on the second boat. Then the women. Then the men. Last the captain.

The way my friend told this story (she may have exaggerated a little--she was nine when it happened and twenty-five when she told me this story) about a minute after the captain got the last two square feet of space on the deck of the rescue boat, the first boat sunk.

Then she spent two years in a refugee camp on Mindanao.
posted by bukvich at 7:32 AM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Regarding "cazzo" and translations of it, this is a post I made last year which examines the difficulty in grammatical categorization when it comes to cursing. It's probably even more difficult to *translate* cursing; especially when used as an intensifier. I mean, what exact purpose does "the fuck" serve in the alternate translation I've read, "Get the fuck back on board"?
posted by notsnot at 7:39 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Well, there's your problem..."
posted by the painkiller at 7:49 AM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


How about 'Get back on board you prick' for a translation?

No, he wasn't specifically calling Schettino a prick (although he sure was thinking it), just as you shouldn't understand "fuck!" as an order...
posted by Skeptic at 7:51 AM on January 19, 2012


As I get older, it becomes clear that almost everyone in a position of authority is, odds on, an incompetent asshole.

Or that, when terrifying and stressful emergencies occur, those nominally in charge are rarely the calm confident supermen that we would like to pretend they are when we blindly put our faith in them.
posted by aught at 8:34 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


when terrifying and stressful emergencies occur, those nominally in charge are rarely the calm confident supermen that we would like to pretend they are

But this situation didn't call for a calm and confident superman. All it required was a minimally competent leader capable of prioritizing. The problem wasn't that Schettino failed to meet our lofty and unrealistic expectations, it was that he managed to limbo under a bar set so low.

This wasn't the Titanic hitting an iceberg in the fog. This was a fully equipped vessel running aground in shallow water. There's absolutely no reason anyone should have died. Their deaths are due to the shocking incompetence and cravenness of Schettino, who abdicated the fundamental responsibility of a ship captain. He wasn't asked to be a superhero. He was expected to demonstrate minimal competence. He failed, and he got people killed.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:58 AM on January 19, 2012 [22 favorites]


Almost makes you wish that keelhauling was still a thing.

With the ship sitting on bottom they'd never get him more than halfway round. Still, it's worth a try.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:02 AM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


lurid story about the mysterious Dominica Cemortan, the "young Moldovan woman" who "worked" for the cruise line and may have been on the bridge during the accident as a guest of an officer, possibly Schettino

Finally, a foreign woman to blame things on! Who is at once cast as a slut, but referred to not as a woman, but a girl! Let's make wild speculations about her while running pictures of her pretty face, to get attention! Thanks, Italian press. Ugh.

Regarding De Falco's berating of Schettino: My impression was that the yelling was not done out of anger, so much as in an attempt to force Schettino to get on board. In Italy, the coast guard is part of the navy. I imagine that, like many military institutions, they tend to use screaming and the repetition of a simple directive as a way of overriding people's will, and initiating the desired action.

And as goes the employment of "foreign nationals" on the boat: I can see how, as someone who is not a navigator or engineer, and who is working with an Italian captain off the Italian coast, individual crew members might feel disempowered, or second-guess their impulses, especially in a time of emergency. The crew of the Costa Concordia was largely Philippine; while Schettino was sitting comfortably in his house, they were stuck sorting out travel and paperwork so they could get home.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:07 AM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I didn't realize the route was so crazy. This is like a Greyhound driver taking a detour onto the Indy 500
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The way I see it, if Ms. Cemortan is in any way involved in Schettino's errors (whether as a distraction or otherwise), the blame is entirely on him, not her. But yeah, the Italian Press.
posted by spitbull at 9:59 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think we're all forgetting who the real villain is here: the SS Californian.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:05 AM on January 19, 2012


Or that, when terrifying and stressful emergencies occur, those nominally in charge are rarely the calm confident supermen that we would like to pretend they are when we blindly put our faith in them.

Tell that to your doctor when something goes wrong during surgery. Or the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:30 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


What I mean to say is that reacting calmly under pressure is in the job description. It might seem difficult to imagine if you are not a cruise ship captain, which is why not all of us are cruise ship captains.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:53 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a German saying/joke:

"What is the thinnest book in the world? - Italian heroes"
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:07 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really? I thought it was Famous German Lovers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:21 AM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's funny. Because the way I've heard that joke here is "German Humor"
posted by Navelgazer at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Collected Wisdom of the Republican Party."
posted by crunchland at 11:26 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it might be "German lovers", but not "German humor". That would be "Swiss humor" instead. Seriously.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 11:27 AM on January 19, 2012


he didn't have to be hero, but to compare him to an airplane pilot

Okay.

Okay, again.
posted by Gelatin at 11:40 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


According the call itself, and my limited understanding of maritime law, De Falco is in fact the Captain of the Costa Concordia at the time of the call, since Schettino has abrogated this responsibility. De Falco starts by giving his subordinate an order, which is not followed. The rest of the conversation is an attempt by De Falco to get this order followed, so that he can back to the job of minimizing the loss of life. I think he did a very good job in an unbelievably stressful situation.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:03 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not everyone is Sully Sullenberger, heroically walking the aisles of our miraculously landed and now sinking airplane

Not everyone captains a $450 million floating skyscraper with 3000 passengers and crew. It's an awesome responsibility, and to say, "Oh, we all crack under pressure" is just delusional.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think we have to assume by the time of the recorded call, either
a.) De Falco has been on the line with Schettino for some time, possibly on-and-off, and is getting Schettino to repeat who he is just for the sake of the recording, or
b.) De Falco's subordinates or the local rescue team have been on the line with Schettino for some time, and the rescuers have been getting the runaround from him (possibly because he's drunk or in shock) and eventually passing him up the chain of command.
Or both.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2012


I want to add one more thing here, and that's what I've read about studies of disasters have showed that nearly all the civilians involved manage to make good decisions and exhibit calmness under fire, even in apparent mass panics like crowd stampedes. I've been in a disaster (I'm the one interviewed who's wearing a red tie), I've seen other people deal with dramatic emergencies, and people really get pretty businesslike and only freak out after it's all over.

If there's one thing that has been selected for in our evolutionary pasts, it's been fast and correct response to life-threatening emergencies. Surprisingly few people crack under instant pressure, and the ones who do are usually kept in line by everyone else.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not everyone captains a $450 million floating skyscraper with 3000 passengers and crew. It's an awesome responsibility, and to say, "Oh, we all crack under pressure" is just delusional.

Well, not ALL will crack under pressure. But the assumption that some will crack is actually a fundamental part of the command structure. What if the captain literally cracks under pressure, maybe in the crash a steel beam falls on his head and cracks his skull open and kills him? The First Officer takes command. That is the rank structure, that's why it exists in the first place.

So when Schettino panicked and abandoned ship, it was the duty of the First Officer to take command. So where was he? Cowering in the lifeboat with Schettino.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:09 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


when terrifying and stressful emergencies occur, those nominally in charge are rarely the calm confident supermen that we would like to pretend they are when we blindly put our faith in them.

Then again...
posted by Gelatin at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2012


Man, good thing both the Captain and his First Officer tripped into the exact same lifeboat when the ship started to tilt!
posted by muddgirl at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I want to add one more thing here, and that's what I've read about studies of disasters have showed that nearly all the civilians involved manage to make good decisions and exhibit calmness under fire, even in apparent mass panics like crowd stampedes. I've been in a disaster (I'm the one interviewed who's wearing a red tie), I've seen other people deal with dramatic emergencies, and people really get pretty businesslike and only freak out after it's all over."

Actually, I read a (popular, not-rigorous) book recently that surveyed people's reactions in disasters and similar emergencies, and one of the points was that it's generally rare that people "panic", but that, surprisingly, what often gets them in trouble is the tendency to do the opposite of panic, and that's under-estimate the danger they're in and delay a reasonable response. People also look to those around them for cues about what they should be doing. Finally, for the people who have responsibility (staff, whomever), there's a strong tendency to wait for orders from above, which often doesn't come or, when it does, is clearly inappropriate to the specific circumstances.

These things far too often add up to people calmly doing nothing for the short time available to escape.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


To anyone in this thread who has sympathy for that filthy scumbag of a captain - the rest of us certainly hope you are not in any positions of authority over human safety.

I don't just want him in prison for years, but his officers as well. The very title of "ship's officer" implies responsibility for the ship and all aboard, that they chose to abandone.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Incredibly, the third officer was also in the lifeboat with Capt Crunch and his first officer, according to that Telegraph link spitbull posted way up thread.
posted by jamaro at 2:41 PM on January 19, 2012


Ivan Fyodorovich: yes, that's very true. I still remember that fire in the club in Rhode Island some years back... the video shows people cheering even as the walls are catching fire.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2012


It seems clear to me, from listening to the recording, that De Falco is getting Schettino on record for legal reasons. It is obvious that the Captain is completely overwhelmed by his error, and at the point of the incident, he is completely and abjectly fleeing the situation. De Falco is making sure that he has the facts recorded for future legal action, and further, is also covering his own ass by assuming command, and recording the failure of others to follow his commands - so that he is not incriminated in the process.

He also seems to be dumbfounded by the Captain's incompetence, and is trying to get Private Pyle over the top of that obstacle, to use a movie reference...
posted by Chuffy at 2:52 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to this morning's Corriere della Sera, there was a 25-year-old Moldvian girl called Domnika who doesn't appear on any crew or passenger lists.

Well I'm watching BBC News and they are showing the interview with Domnica Cemortan, who is defending Schettino against claims that he was one of the first to abandon ship.

Your link is in Italian, is your point that this woman is fabricating her story?
posted by phaedon at 6:11 PM on January 19, 2012


The Peter Principle assumes that this guy was competent at something at some point and promoted to the job of cruiseliner captain. From his behaviour, I doubt that is remotely possible...

Frankly, I believe todays' world operates more on The Dilbert Principle
posted by jkaczor at 9:09 PM on January 19, 2012


Your link is in Italian, is your point that this woman is fabricating her story?

No, absolutely not - if it were, I'd have said so. I've no way of knowing whether she's telling truth or lies. Certainly the magistrates investigating the shipwreck with a view to possible criminal charges are very anxious to talk to her, according to Italian media reporting.

That bare statement was all I had at the time. I've since read that (as you say) Ms Cemortan has been defending Schettino and (as others have said upthread) that she has stated she worked in some capacity for the shipping line.

It's pretty easy to jump to conclusions, e.g. that the captain was having a bit of fun on the side with a pretty blonde who worked for the same company in a field usually associated with plenty of opportunity for fooling around, and that he might have been doing a close pass to impress his girlfriend. But I think we need to resist this temptation until more facts are available and she's had a chance to answer questions by the magistrates.
posted by aqsakal at 12:15 AM on January 20, 2012


loquacious: "Yet another reason to never, ever go on one of those floating buffet death traps. Cruise ships are fucking ridiculous from concept to execution."

I've always thought "cruise ship" was a synonym for "floating nursing home".
posted by dunkadunc at 9:11 PM on January 20, 2012


This is what happens when a David Brent type slips through to the position that they truly believe they deserve. There's lots of David Brents out there.
posted by h00py at 3:42 AM on January 21, 2012


In [lukewarm] Defence of Captain Schettino (from a Master Mariner)

An interesting video annotation which visually plots the last minutes of the ship from GPS data onto a chart, with comments from the above Mariner, John Konrad.
posted by Rumple at 9:07 PM on January 22, 2012


I've always thought "cruise ship" was a synonym for "floating nursing home".

To the extent that was ever true, it was a long time ago. Beginning in the 1980s the cruise business boomed, with many new ships built, and to fill them up the marketing targeted younger couples specifically. Today median ages on most cruise lines are well under 50 or even 40.

In 1986 my boss -- then under 40 -- got a free cruise with her husband (and a bunch of other couples) where they were basically used as models for advertising. The whole point was to show people that cruising wasn't just for retirees.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on January 24, 2012


« Older Seawise Giant - later known as Happy Giant, Jahre ...  |  Roger Waters spent an hour ear... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments