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January 24, 2012 1:24 AM   Subscribe

Play by play animation and description dissecting the Costa Concordia tragedy using available AIS data. Warning: distracting off camera 'thunking' noise throughout. Captain John Konrad also discusses the three fatal mistakes made by the ship's master that lead to the grounding.
posted by mattoxic (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Warning: distracting off camera 'thunking' noise throughout.

Sounds like one of my videos...

who'd a thunk it?

posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:31 AM on January 24, 2012


At the bottom of the "three fatal mistakes" link (wherein getting drunk is not mentioned as one of the fatal mistakes) Konrad puts up a defense of Captain Crunch:

"Captain Schettino has received a lot of criticism in the mainstream press and possibly, even more from industry insiders including gCaptain for abandoning ship before the last passenger was safe. Still, an important question is not being asked… what did he do right?"

"While Schettino may lose points for not “going down with the ship,” the evidence points to the fact that, if anything, he did remain clam amid the chaos around him."

*rolls eyes*

Yes, it is especially important not to panic when you're drunk. Stay calm and remain focused on saving your own skin.

This Konrad guy should be writing lines for Newt Gingrich.
posted by three blind mice at 2:46 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


he did remain clam

Indeed, he was outta that boat so fast you'd think he was a clam, trying to get back home!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:38 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That 'three fatal mistakes' link is instantly crashing Firefox for me.
posted by Lebannen at 3:39 AM on January 24, 2012


that 'three fatal mistakes' link is instantly crashing Firefox for me.

The fourth!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:40 AM on January 24, 2012


Only one fatal mistake was made: Carnival Cruise Lines hired and retained this showboating moron.
posted by spitbull at 3:51 AM on January 24, 2012


You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never to get involved in a land war in Asia. And only slightly less well known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Oh and, don't steer towards the rocks.
posted by Splunge at 4:37 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


that 'three fatal mistakes' link is instantly crashing Firefox for me.

it's indeed a sad day when firefox crashes
posted by mattoxic at 4:42 AM on January 24, 2012


Captain John Konrad also discusses the three fatal mistakes made by the ship's master that lead to the grounding.

I rather wonder what Captain Joseph Conrad would have to say about him.
posted by Skeptic at 5:17 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I rather wonder what Captain Joseph Conrad would have to say about him.

"Mistah Schettino, he fled."
posted by chavenet at 5:34 AM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Mistah Schettino, he fled."

On roller skates, no doubt.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:49 AM on January 24, 2012


I've read TFA and I must say that Captain Konrad has a point - but only if it turns out the captain wasn't actually under the influence and if he really fell into a boat by accident and if he really was coordinating the rescue from there.

His point seems to be that actually the only Schettino's mistake that resulted in fatalities was running the vessel aground sideways causing it to tilt. After that, him remaining on board had no impact on the rescue effort because the crew was, according to Konrad, trained well enough to handle the emergency on their own.

I'm no seaman so I can't really comment on the veracity of the latter assumption but I'm going to anyway - and I don't believe it.
posted by hat_eater at 5:51 AM on January 24, 2012


I rather wonder what Captain Joseph Conrad would have to say about him.


The horror. . . the horror. . .
 
posted by Herodios at 6:05 AM on January 24, 2012


he did remain clam
"Vada a bordo, vongola!"
posted by Herodios at 6:26 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


"we will never know what happened until the voice recorder is retrieved"

So let's make shit up with a floating pencil.
posted by stormpooper at 6:32 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know why Captain Konrad accepts Schettino's word about 'falling into' the same lifeboat as both his first and second officers.

I also think the whole 'coordinating the rescue' bit is moot - he was being ordered back on the boat by an officer who had taken command of the rescue, and was indeed coordinating the rescue from off the ship.
posted by muddgirl at 6:41 AM on January 24, 2012


It sounds like very deliberate and thorough fapping is going on in the background.
posted by entropos at 7:09 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


His point seems to be that actually the only Schettino's mistake that resulted in fatalities was running the vessel aground sideways causing it to tilt.

No, he states three very clear mistakes, any of which, if not committed, would have probably resulted in a miss and no fatalities.

1) The ship's speed at approach was far too high, resulting in less time to react and wider turning circles.

2) The turn to parallel the course was made far too late, resulting in the first strike on ground

3) The ship was grounded by the beam, causing it to heel over. This created a dangerous list. It would have been safer to be beached by the bows, which generally keeps the ship upright, and is generally easier to get back off the ground.

He does mention correct moves that non-sailors might not recognize. For example, he orders a sharp turn to port when the aft port beam strikes the rocks. Most would think 'the dumbfuck turned into the rocks!' but the speaker shows that this was correct -- the center of pivot was ahead of the point of collision, thus a left turn would swing the bow quickly to port, but would just as quickly swing the stern to starboard, away from the rocks it was hitting.

This, to me, is an argument that whomever was OOD was dead sober -- they recognized quickly that they'd struck *and where* they'd struck, and made the exact correct maneuver to get the impacting point away from the rocks as fast as they could.

Afterwards, he turns hard right, to burn off the vessels' forward momentum (correct) then tried to bring her about on the bow thrusters, but between the current and wind, the bow thruster either didn't have the thrust to turn the bow in, or was actually balancing and keeping the ship beam on. In this case, he'd wanted to have used the other thruster to try to bring it stern first into the beach, but that's speculation on my part -- I don't know the current or the winds, and we don't have the actual thruster outputs.
posted by eriko at 7:12 AM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


stormpooper: "So let's make shit up with a floating pencil."

Not sure if you're being serious, but he's not making anything up, the video was all based on data about the movement of the ship. I think the point of that disclaimer is to point out that the voice data is crucial to fill in the gaps of knowledge of the human error/decisionmaking, and why what should have happened didn't happen. For example in the "3 mistakes" article, he raises the issue of the role of the mate on watch, whose job it was to lay out the course line on the chart, and why the mate either didn't lay out the turn or got distracted and missed the turn.

muddgirl: "I also think the whole 'coordinating the rescue' bit is moot - he was being ordered back on the boat by an officer who had taken command of the rescue, and was indeed coordinating the rescue from off the ship."

I agree with you, and I don't think Konrad is arguing that the captain is not culpable, so much as advocating thoughtful analysis and explanation to civilians about how things work on boats in emergency situations, since for many of us, the extent of our maritime knowledge is based upon film and television. For example, we all believe that the "Captain goes down with the ship" because we learned that from watching "Titanic". If I'm ever trapped below on a listing boat and the captain goes missing, I'm reverting to everything I learned in "Poseidon Adventure" and will immediately assemble a team that includes Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowell and Shelly Winters and then follow Gene Hackman to safety.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:20 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw this video a few days ago and it a strange problem. At 2:36, he zooms in and the ship is off screen while he asserts that it is entering the danger zone. He keeps describing the recommended course by pointing to a line that has nothing to do with the course, it's just a line connecting the (offscreen) icon of the ship to a label. We don't see the ship again until 3:52. If you're going to do a detailed analysis of the piloting, you probably ought to do a better job charting the course.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:31 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't actually believe that 'the captain goes down with the ship,' and neither (I assume) does the Italian Navy. However, by all accounts the captain and his two mates left the ship after only 40 minutes of evacuation, which continued on for another four and a half hours. I know that's not right, ethically and legally. Also, apparantly, people from Isola del Giglio did board the ship during the evacuation to give assistance. It was safe for them to do so but not the captain and his mates?

I do agree that Costa Cruise's 'accommodating and helpful' castigation of Schettino is a little rich.
posted by muddgirl at 7:31 AM on January 24, 2012


muddgirl: "However, by all accounts the captain and his two mates left the ship after only 40 minutes of evacuation, which continued on for another four and a half hours. I know that's not right, ethically and legally."

I agree, this makes no sense to me, either. I would think that you would want an experienced and authoritative officer in command (not sure of the correct lingo - a line officer?) physically on the ship directing passengers to safety and diverting passengers from blocked escape routes.
I mean, I see Konrad's point in praising the Captain for not panicking, but without some specific examples of what exactly the non-panicky Captain did to help save lives from his point of safety, it seems like hollow praise.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:44 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, the ethical issue is this: Once the superior officers leave the ship, the only thing preventing other emergency-trained crew members from evacuating is their own conscience.
posted by muddgirl at 7:57 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Imagine if you were on an 747 and, as the the plane began the final leg of its approach into O'Hare, the pilot instead decided to buzz the control tower. To "salute" all the pilots in Chicago.

Ethics? This guy obviously has no sense of responsibility to begin with, so it's no wonder he doesn't stick around to help the passengers when things inevitably go wrong. Which is why this whole mess is such a perfect floating Metaphor for our time.

Vada a bordo, indeed.
posted by swift at 8:06 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except, by all accounts, the owners worldwide of cruise ships seem OK with their vessels making close-up "salutes".
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:21 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know who's advocating, "go down with the ship." Instead, the issue seems is whether the captain fulfilled his duty to ensure a safe and orderly evacuation before evacuating himself.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:33 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't know where this idea comes from, that the general public thinks Schettino should have been, like, diving into submerged cabins trying to locate survivors or anything. I don't think anyone expected him to be a martyred hero - just a decent human being.
posted by muddgirl at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except, by all accounts, the owners worldwide of cruise ships seem OK with their vessels making close-up "salutes".

The media here in Italy is reporting that the inquiry is currently refocussing on Costa's substantial share of responsibilities, from having actually ordered this specific salute (and then lied about that), to possibly having slowed the emergency measures, via their marine operations director who was on the phone to Schettino for a large part of the hour that passed before the order to abandon ship, so as to avoid a "sad and sorry" situation, to the very procedures by which they originally instated Schettino as captain.
posted by progosk at 8:58 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This video is an amazing collision of expert professional knowledge and C-grade high school presentation skills. I really wish the guy who made this video would put this together all over again. He clearly knows what he's talking about, but the subject of the video is constantly off-center, the narrator constantly falls off as he speaks, and there's that thumping...gah. Just do it over, man. It's okay. I'm fascinated, but I'm also horribly distracted.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:13 AM on January 24, 2012


@charlie, yes I was kidding. Certain disclaimers make me laugh.
posted by stormpooper at 9:28 AM on January 24, 2012


CBrachyrhynchos: "I don't know who's advocating, "go down with the ship." Instead, the issue seems is whether the captain fulfilled his duty to ensure a safe and orderly evacuation before evacuating himself."

I agree, and just to be clear, I was not intending this in a literal sense; but just using the cliche as an example of what (I think) those of us laypeople expect of ship captains since "captain of the ship" is used as a common metaphor for leadership, and more specifically, acceptance of responsibility for one's actions.

Unless, you know, you're George Kirk, First Officer of the USS Kelvin, in which case, you immediately assume command and go down with your ship during your 12 minute tenure as Captain and set a non-canon alternate timeline in motion.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:49 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


That video was extraordinarily frustrating. Particularly how he would run it for a few seconds, then stop and talk for a while, adjust the view so you can't see the ship ... Ultimately, in the end, I turned it off before Captain Konrad at last revealed the shocking secret - [SPOILERS] that the accident was caused by the ship sailing too close to the rocks and hitting them. [/SPOILERS]

The written articles were on the other hand very informative. He has a point; without power and communications there is no point to the captain remaining on the bridge. However, as the coast guard pointed out at the time, his responsibility is to be in charge of the crew leading the evacuation, and his place would therefore be on deck. This bit of information is in every watch bill I've ever read on every ship I've ever sailed on, so. I think the question of whether the captain was evading his responsibilities is open-and-shut. Whether that amounts to homicide is a question for the courts, I imagine.
posted by zomg at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2012


mudgirl: To me, the ethical issue is this: Once the superior officers leave the ship, the only thing preventing other emergency-trained crew members from evacuating is their own conscience.

zomg: ..without power and communications there is no point to the captain remaining on the bridge. However, as the coast guard pointed out at the time, his responsibility is to be in charge of the crew leading the evacuation, and his place would therefore be on deck.

And that's the problem. In the conversation with Schettino, Coast Guard Captain De Falco said, "You have declared that you have abandoned ship, therefore I'm in command." Schettino effectively decapitated the command structure of the ship, and took his next two ranking officers out with him. There was nobody commanding the evacuation from on deck, crew members like the Purser took over. While the Purser is definitely a hero, having helped passengers get lifejackets and then going back down into the ship to search for stragglers, it also highlights the command problem here. The Purser got trapped himself and was unaccounted for, so scarce rescue resources were used to locate him. If the Captain had been on deck, it would have been his responsibility to prevent his crew from putting themselves at extreme risk. De Falco could not judge these factors remotely from the ground, nor could Schettino and his crew from a lifeboat.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:10 AM on January 24, 2012


Metafilter: I'm fascinated, but I'm also horribly distracted.
posted by chavenet at 11:21 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


That video was extraordinarily frustrating. Particularly how he would run it for a few seconds, then stop and talk for a while, adjust the view so you can't see the ship ...

I think he had more on his screen than ended up in the video (different aspect ratios perhaps). Nonetheless, absolutely nothing of importance happens off screen in the video. He shows everything that matters perfectly clearly. It's really amazing how pinpoint accurate and continuous that AIS data is!

The thing I cannot understand in Capt. Konrad's defense of Schettino is the claim that an earlier Mayday call would not have saved lives. That seems to me incredibly unlikely. His main argument is that by not calling Mayday Schettino prevented panic. Huh? So giving people an hour to assemble at muster stations while the boat is not listing would cause fatal "panic"--but having them scramble to muster stations on a boat that is clearly going down somehow avoids this?

There was time to get every single person on that boat into a lifeboat before the Costa Concordia went down. If he'd dropped anchor after hitting the rock and issued an evacuation order I cannot believe that this would not have dramatically reduced the number of casualties. Schettino seems to me to have simply frozen in denial after the accident. He couldn't bring himself to admit that he'd screwed up so badly and effectively ended his career. He seems to have just been desperately hoping that if he kept saying that everything was o.k. somehow it actually would be. After all, it's not just that he didn't tell the passengers that the ship was sinking--he lied to the Italian coast guard as well.
posted by yoink at 12:37 PM on January 24, 2012


Oh, and I also meant to say in re the safety of these "fly bys." A lot of the commentary on these is rather naive--as if steering a ship is an incredibly chancy activity where you might suddenly veer hundreds of meters off course and fetch up on shore for no particular reason. There are plenty of harbors in the world with very narrow navigable entrances which large ships routinely pass through without incident. Sure, if it had been storm conditions or something it would have been crazy for him to take the boat close in shore--but to pass two or three hundred meters off the coast (as he claims he intended) in calm conditions is an entirely safe maneuver. Any of these cruise vessels in the Mediterranean will routinely navigate passages between islands that leave less room on either side than that.

What happened here was a monumental fuck up by whoever was in charge of the vessel--something akin to an airline pilot missing the runway altogether. This was entirely operator error--not the inevitable tragic outcome of an inherently risky maneuver.
posted by yoink at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2012


Thanks for posting this video; very informative. I liked the explanation of why the captain took that apparently leg away from the port: to burn off his extra speed by turning, which was his only option since he had lost the engines.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:00 PM on January 24, 2012


This video is an amazing collision of expert professional knowledge and C-grade high school presentation skills

Agreed - I found the content fascinating - and yes it was analysis of AIS data and the output from the vehicle recorder is not needed in the analysis. But the thunking!

One can only assume he finished it then realised it lacked thunking, so went back and did it again.
posted by mattoxic at 5:39 PM on January 24, 2012


But the thunking!

He says in the comments that he was recording it on a yacht with a storm coming up. I think we can give him a pass on the thunking.
posted by yoink at 5:43 PM on January 24, 2012


Metafilter: such a perfect floating Metaphor for our time.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:09 PM on January 24, 2012


His point seems to be that actually the only Schettino's mistake that resulted in fatalities was running the vessel aground sideways causing it to tilt. After that, him remaining on board had no impact on the rescue effort because the crew was, according to Konrad, trained well enough to handle the emergency on their own.

From the accounts of the passengers, "trained well enough" is not how I would characterize that crew. Well trained for the normal routine of sailing the ship, maybe. Not well trained for the unusual emergency.

It seems to me that whatever he may or may not have done wrong technically, Schettino just doesn't have any of the characteristics I would imagine when I think of a good professional seaman.
posted by ctmf at 7:20 AM on January 25, 2012


From the accounts of the passengers, "trained well enough" is not how I would characterize that crew.

Me neither - as I noted, even though I'm not a seaman, I'm not convinced by Captain Konrad arguments.
posted by hat_eater at 7:47 AM on January 25, 2012


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