Saturday, January 21, 2012

Did The Captain Being Drunk Delay Evacuation And Cause The Probable 30-Plus Deaths?

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Above: the passengers and apparently somewhere here the captain standing on Port Giglio’s beach at midnight]

Airline pilots have been accused of drunk flying and the worst incident seems to have caused 88 deaths.

Systems changes were implemented to try to stop this ever happening again. We may now be about to see the same thing happen in the cruise ship industry. There are multiple Italian and UK reports that in the two hour period after the ship left the port of Rome, the captain drank maybe a whole carafe of wine, and became distinctly the worse for wear.

Survivors from the shipwreck have claimed that when the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, stood up from his table in the ship’s exclusive Club Concordia restaurant, approximately half an hour before the ship ran on to the rocks, he was in a particularly jolly mood.

La Repubblica suggests that Capt Schettino (52) was not in a fit state to drive a moped let alone pilot a 114,000-tonne cruiser, asserting he would almost certainly have failed a breathalyser test.

The Wall Street Journal reported this bizarre claim from a cook.

About a half-hour after the ship struck the rock…Rogelio Barista, the ship’s cook, said he and other kitchen staff members spotted the captain and a woman ordering food, including drinks and dessert””a sign of apparent nonchalance that left kitchen staff puzzled.

“I asked myself why he was still there waiting for his companion’s dessert with what was happening,” Mr. Barista said in an interview with Italian television.

The Associated Press reported the confusion caused for the shipping company, crew and passengers as a seeming direct result:

The cruise captain who grounded the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 people on board did not relay correct information either to the company or crew after the ship hit rocks, the cruise ship owner’s CEO said Friday as the search resumed for 21 missing passengers.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV that the company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m. some 20 minutes after the ship ran aground on Jan. 13, but could not offer proper assistance because the captain’s description “did not correspond to the truth.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino said only that he had “problems” on board but did not mention hitting a reef.  Likewise, Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation.  Passenger video shown on Italian TV indicates crew members telling passengers to go to their cabins as late as 10:25 p.m. The abandon ship alarm sounded just before 11:00 p.m.

“That’s because they also did not receive correct information on the gravity of the situation,” Foschi said.

In the most cutting English-language report, the Daily Mail claims that the presence of the Moldovan dancer alongside the captain seemingly throughout may have played a deadly role.

And that the very extensive delay in evacuating the ship may have cost all or most of the 30-plus lives lost - most of those still missing are believed to have jumped into the cold sea.

Costa’s president Pierluigi Foschi admitted in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Serra yesterday, that the alarm had been raised too late by Schettino.

“˜Too late. I can’t sleep at night. If we had abandoned it earlier then we would not have lost any lives.’

He said Schettino had always been considered “˜technically able’ but had “˜character issues’. “˜He liked to be at the centre of it.’

The company has now announced it will not pay the captain’s legal fees. Although cruise ships are already very safe, mandatory system change at ship and company levels seem in store. Hopefully including compulsory brain scans of captains and all top crew.

Yesterday the captain finally - finally - expressed some contrition. The sad tales of the dead including a six year old girl are only now starting to come out.

Below: The Concordia, the first supersized Carnival ship, was built in Palermo Sicily in this yard in 2006.

Below: The ship headed out of Rome’s port (Civitavecchia) about two hours before it hit the rocks.

Below: The route the cruise ship was to take. Its unauthorized cruise by Giglio was several miles off authorized course.

Below: The ship hit the rocks at bottom and tilted to the left as it took on water, and is seemingly deliberately beached.

Below: The La Scole rocks (which are not a reef) which the ship hit; there is still confusion over its precise course.

Below: Various charts seem to show all the rocks correctly, and also very deep water a few meters to the east.

Below: The ship picked up the rock that it hit and the rock can be seen here still embedded in the side.

Below: The ship as it was yesterday precariously perched on the highest of several underwater shelves.

Below: The search divers are mostly Carabinieri. Most lost bodies are probably down in very deep water.

Below: The captain is confined to his home in this town across the bay from Naples and Vesuvius to the left.

Below: The captain’s house. Reporters are hanging around outside to record him, but he has not emerged.

Below: One of Carnival Cruise Corp’s two global headquarters, this is in Miami; the other is in London

Below: US Carnival Cruise Corp President and CEO Christine Duffy wants a global cruise systems review

Below: Carnival’s current market capitalization ($24 billion) seems low, but in recent years its stock (blue curve) beat the US average.

Below: Carnival’s stock (blue curve) has not been so hot in recent weeks; it just dropped $4-5 billion. 

Below: The UN’s International Maritime Org in London where global maritime systems are agreed.

Below: A BBC animation that aired last monday on what happened to the ship on the night..

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/21/12 at 03:20 PM in The legal followupsThe wider contextsItalian context



You have confirmed what I suspected all along but was afraid to tell.

Do not underestimate the role of the Moldovian beauty.  I think she was trying to be too pally with the captain… for some reason (obvious or not so obvious).

This is the age (57?, I read somewhere) for fatal attractions…

The company is making decent money.  Why they could not provide a co-captain?  Simple. Too much of greed.

I would prefer anytime a ride in a small boat rather than a supercruiser…

Thank God that most of the people postponed their journey to the heaven.

“Trust me”: Translation of the Latin “caveat emptor.”

Posted by chami on 01/21/12 at 10:02 PM | #

According to BBC Newsnight:

“Costa Crociere has said that on Friday Capt Schettino diverted from the normal route to sail close to Giglio.

Meanwhile, satellite tracking information given to the BBC by the shipping journal Lloyd’s List Intelligence shows the Costa Concordia had sailed even closer to the island on a cruise last August.

Newsnight examines the route taken by the Costa Concordia last August and on Friday

Lloyd’s List told the BBC that the vessel passed within 230m of the island on 14 August 2011 to mark La Notte di San Lorenzo – the night of the shooting stars festival on the island.

The route deviation on that occasion had apparently been authorised by Costa Crociere.

The company said on Monday that the ship was never closer than 500m to the coast when it passed on 14 August.

Lloyd’s List describes that occasion as a “near miss” and says the ship’s route would have been less than 200m away from the point of collision on Friday’s voyage.

Costa Crociere said on Monday that the route deviation last Friday had been “unauthorised, unapproved and unknown to Costa”.

But Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd’s List, said: “The company’s account of what happened, of the rogue master [Capt Schettino] taking a bad decision, isn’t quite as black and white as they presented originally.”

“This ship took a very similar route only a few months previously and the master would have known that.”

Costa Crociere says it is looking into the claims, but stands by the statement it gave on Monday.

Lloyd’s List says the issue of which nautical charts the captain of the vessel was using looks likely to be critical to his defence if he does face a criminal prosecution”

Posted by Ergon on 01/22/12 at 01:41 AM | #

But nothing excuses the captain abandoning his ship while passengers were still on board.

Posted by Ergon on 01/22/12 at 01:42 AM | #

Hi Ergon. Okay to your second comment. Lloyd’s List is out of date - that BBC report was 3-4 days ago. Since then, for the captain things got way worse. Many people seem to have died because he could not get his head together and order an evacuation.

The consumption of all that alcohol is a game changer.  It was reportedly observed by various witnesses. We are told that any drinking at all while on duty would be a total no-no - it would be forbidden right there in his contract. Hence the company newly refusing to pay any of his legal fees.

The question of how close he took the ship to the rocks seems pretty unimportant in comparison. The fact is he hit one this time and not last time, so clearly he got closer. And of course the previous cruise by the island was approved by the company and coast guard, and this one was not.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 03:54 AM | #

Abandoning ship was certainly the MOTHER OF ALL wrong decisions on the part of Captain Schettino.

That aside, I wonder how much of the ‘truth’ has yet to emerge under the cold light of the investigation?

Isn’t it bizarre that the Captain, knowing that there was a hole in the side of the ship and that the engine room and parts of the ship were already flooded, would order dessert and ‘wait for his drink’?
Isn’t it bizarre that, knowing of the danger to all on board, he did not give the order to evacuate the ship earlier?

I wonder whether he was acting under other - higher - instructions.

The company is beginning to emerge as not quite truthful.

It is possible that Captain Schettino is being made a solitary scapegoat to preserve other interests. ... -schettino

and ... 6250612022

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 08:01 AM | #

@ thundering thanks for the links but the australian one is not available or has been removed am sorry to say. :The australian is a very good paper.

If it is true that he was drinking a lot at dinner this changes everything. But if Schettino was in the habit of doing these salutes and taking his ship in very close- the company must have known and the coast guard too.

I studied his picture and i believe it is possible to tell a great deal about a person from their appearance including attitude disposition and a persons general health.

This is a playboy if ever i have seen one.

Posted by mason2 on 01/22/12 at 10:22 AM | #

Sorry about that, mason2.  It worked giving the full article when I posted on PMF and here earlier.  Now it takes you to a page with just the first paragraph and an invitation inviting you to login to read the rest.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 10:51 AM | #


Your comment It is possible that Captain Schettino is being made a solitary scapegoat to preserve other interests. is not supported by the either of the two links you have given.  Few reports (admittedly very few that I have read so far) - means none what so ever - has made this allegation.  So far it appears to be a preventable accident.

Why he did not ask for help? It was so close to the coast?  Most likely, in his drunken stupor, he did not realise the seriousness of the situation. But all the crews are anyway trained for emergency, and many must have followed the steps of their captain.

Guardian just pities him, that’s all.

People tend to make rules for others and exceptions for themselves.

Posted by chami on 01/22/12 at 11:37 AM | #

Here’s an interesting perspective:

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 11:54 AM | #

@ chami,

Actually, my references DO - or DID - support what I was saying.  However, the two links I have posted here on TJMK don’t seem to work.  I copied and pasted them from my own post on PMF but even there one of the links (The Australian) does not bring up what I read this morning.  The other one (The Guardian) seems slightly different - news agencies do update articles at times.

Here is a relevant passage from the Guardian article just now retrieved from my PMF post:

“Prosecutors investigating the disaster were reportedly keen to establish why more than an hour had elapsed between the moment at which the liner hit a rock, and the order to abandon ship.
New evidence has emerged of another “salute” made by the Costa Concordia as it passed within a few hundred yards of a different Italian island.
In Rome on Wednesday, the environment minister, Corrado Clini, told parliament that the government was considering legislation to ban the practice of “saluting”.
The controversy has also revived discussion of the routes taken by cruise liners through the Venice lagoon, where they frequently pass within a short distance of St Mark’s Square and other priceless heritage sites.
The Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that investigators had established that Captain Francesco Schettino spoke on three occasions to the ship’s operator, Costa Cruises, via its emergency unit before the evacuation began.
Investigators wanted to know whether the 68-minute period that elapsed during the course of these calls was because Schettino had underplayed or underestimated the gravity of the damage sustained by the liner, or because Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival, had been reluctant to sanction a decision to evacuate that might cost it millions of euros in compensation, the paper said.
A company spokesman told the Guardian that it could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but said: “Costa Cruises continues to liaise fully with the Italian authorities and is playing a full part in the investigation.”

The INFERENCE is that there is more to this than meets the eye; that the company may also be culpable.

To clarify the points I was making (perhaps I did not express it in clear English):

1. Questions are now emerging about the role of the company and its directors in these events.

2. New information is emerging about phone calls made by Schettino (and others) to the top people at the company which bring the company and directors into the frame.

3. The company is very quick to place ALL the blame at the feet of the Captain (who most definitely made several bad choices) and distance itself ENTIRELY.

Basically I am saying that as human beings we are all very quick to point fingers when things go wrong and there is often some reflexive desire to find a scapegoat.  In many such cases, all manner of dirt is dug up to reinforce particular arguments e.g. the regular womanising / playboy attitude in this particular case.

I am not defending Schettino but I AM saying that I think the investigation will throw up more information, knowledge and understanding about this very avoidable tragedy than is currently available.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 12:24 PM | #

P.S. Sorry, can’t edit posts here but you will find if you read up more carefully that there are actually MANY reports suggesting that there is more to it than Schettino’s showing off which is definitely the major cause of the accident.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 12:28 PM | #

Hi Thundering. The drinking is a late-breaking development - a watershed which had the company backing off fast. It was only early yesterday US time that the Italian media were full of the story.

And the company did not originate or push the story, passengers and crew did. Prior to that the company had merely said he was very hard to understand and they were not being told the ship had hit rocks.

You make no mention of the alcohol which is what the post and Chami’s comments are about. And while your Telegraph article is good it was written before that and the Guardian piece is now three days old.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 02:12 PM | #

PMF software now abbreviates all links as long links were extending way off the visible page. Links posted above leave part of the address out. To copy complete links on PMF one has to go into edit or reply mode.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 02:32 PM | #

The trajectory of the ship shows it was involved in a U-turn and presumably one would not be able to argue that this was for any purpose other than to get close in shore and beach the ship.

From which one can argue that by that juncture it was clear to those in command that the ship was fatally compromised. That being so the decision to beach was correct in my view. We are not talking any great distance here but stopping and/or slowing and then turning a large ship would take up quite a bit of time, and such an operation could compromise a safe evacuation whilst it was in progress particularly if the beaching was then a matter of haste.

I suspect that the period of time between striking the rock (which I cannot believe for a moment the bridge was not aware of), assessment of damage, and then the decision to beach, was probably a relatively short one.

That said, the following questions would need to be answered :-

1. Should not all passengers have been ordered above or on top decks, and into the life boats, immediately the collision took place, even if as just a precaution?

2. Should not the life boats have been released prior to making the turn?

3. Could there have been some reasonable expectation as to which way the ship would “topple over” or sink when beached? Perhaps this is too much of a vagary to predict. Incidentally the ship went down on the side opposite the hole in it’s side but. whatever, I would expect it to go down on the side on which it was listing and I would have thought that could have been anticipated and passengers moved away from that side.

4. And finally, of course, what sort of idiocy is it to sail in close on a headland (rocks or no rocks on a chart) to make a sail by salute? Any captain doing that in future should be instantly dismissed and his employers fined very heavily.

I think that a lot of lives may have been saved had an urgent but orderly evacuation been put into effect immediately and even if that had only been partially accomplished before the ship was turned round to beach there would have been less of a scrum for the crew to cope with when the ship did beach.

However it seems from all the reports coming in that everything was totally shambolic and at the end of the day this is the Captain’s responsibility (whatever his bosses may or may not have thought was going on and/or told him to do).

The loss of a single life was surely eminently preventable.

I wouldn’t go to sea with him in a fishing smack, let alone a supercruiser.

There is, of course, every prospect that all such questions will be answered as there are loads of witnesses.

Posted by James Raper on 01/22/12 at 02:53 PM | #

Hi James. Nice work. That all looks to be by the book and is surely written into the training and manuals and captain’s contract in great detail.  The buck stops with the captain. That’s it.

Urgency would be heavily built in. I doubt that it says in the training and manuals and contract that the captain must first waste over an hour trying to “consult” the company or get them to say… precisely what?

All that was needed from the captain were two simple words: get off. Then the steps you describe would have been carried out like clockwork by every trained crew member on board. Same as on any plane.

I’ve not seen a precise timing for the period before the beaching but the various simulations with nautical software now on YouTube (well worth a look) seem to suggest 5 to 10 minutes. Some of the simulations describe a 360-degree-plus clockwise turn at the northernmost point.

It looks like there was just possibly a fight going on on the bridge with somebody saying to the captain or steersman, no, we cant just head off to the north or north-east, we really must head the ship back and beach.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 03:24 PM | #

Hi, Peter.

Yes, I am aware of the passenger reports about the drinking and womanising on the night in question but that wasn’t the point of my post.  There were also a few reports that he hadn’t drunk any alcohol so it is difficult to ascertain from media reports just what is the actual truth there.

My post was intended to speculate (rather than state a fact) that the company may hold some criminal responsibility for the delay in the evacuation based on the various reports I had read.

I find it most peculiar that someone with as much knowledge of a) the sea and sailing vessels and b) the state of affairs on his own ship after hitting the rock would fail to give the order to at least begin to assemble the passengers to be ready to evacuate and that he would then - supposedly - order drinks and dessert whilst the ship is listing.  It is unfathomable and this is the reason I posed the questions I did.

The articles I linked were the ones that appeared at the top of the list today when I googled for updates.  I didn’t actually look at the date they had been first written.

Thanks for your explanation re the copy and paste action.  Makes sense.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 03:31 PM | #

The Telegraph article is timed and dated 7:30 AM GMT 22 January (today) which is 3:30 PM Singapore time (22 January).  Not sure what time that would be by the timing here on TJMK, though (New York timimg?) 😉

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 03:53 PM | #

Hi Thundering. No the Telegraph article makes no mention of the MANY new Italian reports from crew and passengers that the captain drank a LOT of alcohol so it preceded those.

What I said above James’s excellent post: ““The drinking is a late-breaking development - a watershed which had the company backing off fast. It was only early yesterday US time that the Italian media were full of the story.”

Drinking while driving and drinking while flying a plane are strict no-nos. James, might you be able to unearth the law as it applies to captains on duty or even drop by IMO in Central London and have a chat?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 04:07 PM | #

Sorry, Peter.  I think we are talking at cross purposes. 

I am referring to your comment: ‘And while your Telegraph article is good it was written before that and the Guardian piece is now three days old.’

The Telegraph article I think you mean is this one, published this morning, and it presents a different, speculative, angle so it is not necessarily important to refer to the drinking:

To be frank, I don’t think any of us can make any claims with any certainty based on what we are learning in dribs and drabs via the media. 

Different reports, accounts and illustrations are constantly being leaked, reported and updated throughout the days and nights. 

Just as it seems that chaos reigned on the boat on that fateful night so it would seem that chaos reigns in the media with different accounts from different individuals.

We are unlikely to have a clear picture of much until the investigation is wrapped up and it is all presented at a trial - and a subsequent motivations report. 

And we know how thorough the Italians are in these matters so I think I will let them get on with their job and wait and see.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 05:06 PM | #

P.S. (and then I won’t speak again 😊 )

The drinking has already been mentioned several times over the last week and so is not fresh news per se but just a flood of recent reports on it.

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 05:21 PM | #

Hi Thundering. Your final comment is incorrect. You may wish to keep denying it but reports of HEAVY drinking as mentioned in the top post are less than two days old.

I am so far not seeing the company reported as doing anything wrong. Under James’s scenario it is unlikely that anything will come out that will shift much or most of the blame onto them.

The death toll is now reported to be likely to go up and for the sake of the real victims not the captain the media stance should be to keep on the heat.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 05:45 PM | #

I’m not sure to which side the ship listed, but according to the animation it listed to the right, that is starboard, and that makes sense since it sank to starboard on beaching.

This is contrary to what one might expect with the hole on the port side but an ingress of water to a ship can have unexpected effects where listing is concerned.

Not only was the hole on the port side but to the rear of the ship. I’m wondering if the pilot at the wheel saw or heard something to port (like the rock outcrop itself, or a screeching sound) and threw the wheel over to steer the ship away to starboard which would have had the effect of turning the rear of the ship to port and hard against the rock.

Also, if the captain did not stop, back up and then turn the ship slowly, before proceeding, again slowly, then - well, a tight turn without doing that could have made the ship list to starboard even more heavily. But I think a ship of that size would have had virtually no space in which to do this anyway (unlike Henry VIII’s flagship, The Mary Rose, a mere trinket by comparison, which keeled over and sank in Portsmouth Sound, in full view of the King, because the gunwales had been left open and the water poured in through them).

I can’t think a 5 - 10 minute scenario makes much sense.

Neither do I think it would have taken long for the ship to have covered the distance from the point of impact to where it is presumed to have made it’s turn. This is no great distance.

I speculate - as Peter does - that the ship was brought to a halt and then much time was wasted arguing over what to do next (or what the Captain was up to?).

If so, what a shame and complete waste of valuable time. Lives lost in consequence.

I don’t think that anyone can argue against the proposition that if a ship is, as in this case, close to the shoreline then the Captain should be on the bridge in charge.

A popular conception is that there is a connection between alcohol and the sea. Rum was traditionally drunk in the Royal Navy and our conception of pirates is that they were drunk most of the time. That, of course, is just an historical perspective on the period of sail when ships were smaller and vulnerable to conditions at sea and when those who sailed in them needed some fortification.

Posted by James Raper on 01/22/12 at 06:15 PM | #

Hi James.  Thank you for your clear posts.

Good point.  Where exactly was the captain when the ship got too close to the shoreline?  Was he on the bridge or not?  Still in the restaurant?  Have his whereabouts been clarified?

Posted by thundering on 01/22/12 at 06:40 PM | #

Hi James

I retract the five minute suggestion then. That does seem too short. Those simulations may not have been in real-time and the ship was seemingly moving at not much more than a walking pace.

Which simulations did you view? This below lasts over 13 minutes and does seem to be in real-time and very precise. The buoys (hard to spot - vertical sticks) represent the rocks. I’m not seeing any lean and the software may not allow for lean.

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The creator says his group tried 3 different ECDIS systems and they all gave off alarms by the rocks. (On ECDS: )

For sure visual and audible warnings would have gone off for real on the bridge.

The creator’s other video, below, shows the ship swinging hard to the right (in panic?) by the rocks so the tail may have swung out hard to the left, which could explain how it picked up the rock.

<object width=“600” height=“360”><param name=“movie” value=“”></param></param></param><embed src=“” type=“application/x-shockwave-flash” width=“600” height=“360” allowscriptaccess=“always” allowfullscreen=“true”></embed></object>

The ship’s black box with all the bridge’s voice recordings was photographed being recovered (it was bright orange).  Along with the captain’s blood test, the content could be announced or leak out in a few days.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/22/12 at 07:03 PM | #

Could it be that TJMK is an anti-alcohol site ? If that should be the case, I have to say that I agree heartily.

Posted by aethelred23 on 01/22/12 at 11:58 PM | #

Hi Athelred. Our interest is in issues of crime, how the Italian media and authorities handle them and how much caring attention victims receive so we can have some yardsticks for Perugia.

We know now successful convictions are tough and there is some concern in Italy that the system is too tilted toward worrying about the perp and the families of real victims can have a very tough time.  Half a dozen Italian emailers in past years have argued the same thing. 

One of Italy’s major newspapers (Repubblica,  quoted above) was reporting several witnesses claiming the captain was drinking on the job, in a context in which a probable 30 plus victims have died.

If Carnival also ends up looking bad or in need of systems overhaul, so be it. No problem for us. Police and rescue workers and Italian media so far seem to be doing a pretty good job. 

We’ll all be pretty glad when the translation of the Hellman report is done and when the grounds for the appeal come out. Meredith’s remains a compelling cause.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/23/12 at 01:19 AM | #

Costa Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino should have taken some navigation lessons and advice from 16 year old Laura Dekker from the Netherlands who yesterday became the youngest sailor ever to sail solo around the world.

” I have navigated the whole world, bypassed difficult ports and dangerous reefs and got through the heaviest storms all the time fully responsible for myself and Guppy [her boat].”

Congratulations to Laura Dekker on her successful circumnavigation!


Posted by True North on 01/23/12 at 02:06 AM | #

Hi aethelred23,

If you see Roman drivers driving in Rome, you will certainly suspect that they are all drunk! No, I am very sorry, they think they are driving Ferraris on the roads of Rome!  They do not have to drink to drive like that (perhaps they want to impress some cute rider under a not-so-cute helmet), but I surely digress. New Yorkers have been trying to beat the Roman drivers, but I do not think they will ever succeed. Indeed, I so often stand and just watch their highly animated discussions on the roads of Rome.

The vessel always tilts on the other side- this allows water to enter freely. This is the reason it took time to sink- the hull is usually compartmentalised and water enters usually slowly.

But even a drunk person gets sober when the danger strikes. I have to get inside the captain’s brain to guess what he was thinking! (Certainly not about the passengers)

Perhaps thundering has a point that I cannot see.

Try to have as good a life as you can under the circumstances.

Posted by chami on 01/23/12 at 04:45 PM | #

In the giornale di Brescia today there is a report that some of the bodies found in the Costa Concordia wreck do not seem to be on the passenger lists.

This is very interesting. How could this be that there are non paying passengers on board. Costa HO has no comment at this stage.

Everyone on this site will be following this case with great interest am sure.

Posted by mason2 on 01/23/12 at 07:58 PM | #

Thanks Mason2.

The Costa Concordia is large but it is not even in the top two dozen in terms of the world’s largest. It has just been removed from place 15 on this list which it shared with three other Carnival ships.’s_largest_cruise_ships

The two very largest are approximately twice the size. Both are owned by Royal Caribbean which itself is essentially Asian owned. This is the Oasis of the Seas which was built in Finland in 2010.

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Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/23/12 at 11:22 PM | #

New report from the BBC.

They have interviewed the deputy mayor who says he and the mayor quickly went on board and searched and found the captain AWOL. In his absence they tried to organize an evacuation.

“I met the mayor and immediately we devised a plan to co-ordinate the evacuation of the people, so I decided to go on a tender and to go on board. My first duty was to look for an officer on the boat in order to co-ordinate the evacuation.”

“I took the first tender that arrived at the port with the first evacuated passengers. I took this tender all by myself and went on board. I went up and I started looking for an officer.”

“After 20 minutes I couldn’t find anybody. I even went on the higher bridges of the ship and even then I couldn’t see anybody. People were fighting with each other in order to get on the rope to climb up”

“So I decided to go down again to co-ordinate people and put them in dinghies in order to go on land. At the time the ship was not listing so it wasn’t difficult.”

“There were a lot of people who wanted to help but there was no-one guiding them; there was nobody was directing anything. There was goodwill by many people but many didn’t even speak English, so it was difficult.”

The BBC article continues to describe what they tried to do.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/24/12 at 02:54 PM | #

Connections to the Titanic (whose macho captain had also thrown caution to the winds).

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/24/12 at 03:02 PM | #

Italian media are still running many dozens of reports a day - about the securing of the ship and pumping out of the oil, about story after story of those who escaped alive, about the great sympath of Giglio residents, about the fragile marine environment around about. There dont seem to have been any illegals on board.

Very little new is leaking out about the captain and the intense interrogations of the crew now going on.  This solitary report posted 6 hours ago says a bypass of Giglo was programmed into the ship’s auto navigation when the ship left Rome. The captain took manual control of the ship about four miles out. Officers have apparently said they warned him about the rocks.

Ten or so minutes after the collision with the rocks, the ship was slowed to a crawl and the anchor was dropped to swing the ship from north to south.  The simulations then suggest that the side thrusters were used to push the ship sideways onto the shelf.  Exactly who in the crew did what then is still really unclear.

Nothing yet to counter the Costa company’s claim that the captain was not at all clear to understand. The fact that he made various calls which did not progress things and then (his claim) fell off the ship suggests he was befuddled at best. He has tested negative for drugs but no alcohol result has yet come out.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/24/12 at 03:57 PM | #

Two new points from the Italian media to add to this last one above.

1) The programming of the ship’s navigation at Rome’s port was not a beeline to Giglio, and it seems to have followed the conventional authorized route several miles west for almost all of the way. Was this to fool the shipping line and the maritime authorities?

2) Those “salutes” by cruise ships dont seem to be that frequent - there is not exactly an epidemic - and many seaports dont much appreciate ships arriving with all their airhorns blaring.

Many of the largest ships turn up in NYC harbor in their early days to show off to the customer base (Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, Freedom of the Seas) but any horn blaring is usually done way out. The fire tenders send pretty cascades into the air, and there are firework off the Statue of Liberty when they depart.

Nothing seems seriously broken so far except for the Costa’s officers, which was, well, rudderless from the top man down. Most of the crew were not Italian and a lot of Filipinos are at least temporarily out of a job.

I was googling drunk captain incidents and the first one to show up was in Seattle, the Celebrity Line’s Mercury (image below) seven years ago, where they took a very hard line. He was instantly fired and arrested.

“He failed four breath tests, with a blood-alcohol level as high as 0.18, federal prosecutors said. The legal federal maritime limit is 0.04.

Federal maritime law makes it illegal to operate a vessel in U.S. waters with a blood-alcohol content level above 0.04, which represents roughly what a 170-pound man might register up to three hours after consuming a 12-ounce beer.

The captain was immediately replaced with another officer onboard, and was arrested.

Michael Sheehan, a spokesman for parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said in a statement the captain who failed the breath test had been relieved of his command would be dismissed.

Company policy forbids any officer from consuming alcohol within eight hours of reporting for duty, a spokesman said.

The captain was under investigation for a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison for operating a commercial vessel under the influence of alcohol.”


Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/25/12 at 01:42 AM | #

I am an avid cruiser having just completed a similar 16 day in late October. First, there are no conclusive reports that the Captain had been drunk/or was drinking prior to the incident. The passengers had only been onboard 2-3 hours prior to the accident and many do not even recognize the Captain’s epaulets. They see stripes, they think it’s the Captain. Having seen many ships bridges, I believe the accident would never have happened and believe the ship was under manual control. No matter what the cause, the fault lies entirely with the Captain, it was his vessel to command. As for cruisebruise, one of the most sensationalistic websites on the net. Cruise companies however, tend to discuss events such as these to This website has the most up to date information detailing the Concordia disaster. Since I’ve had quite a few more than interesting experiences, I am willing to wait for an accurate reporting of the facts and not speculate.

Posted by tigger34 on 01/25/12 at 01:40 PM | #

Wednesday morning. Reuters have published a bugged phone conversation in which the captain claimed to a Fabrizio (last name unknown) that someone in the company urged him to get close to the island’s coast.

He didnt claim this at the hearing which placed him under house arrest so how reliable? He also claimed he got off the ship because it was dark and he saw nothing else to do. After that he made his claim to have fallen off into a lifeboat.

Sollecito lawyer Giulia Bongiorno will represent 30 passengers ina class action suit. The cruise company in turn is suing the captain.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/25/12 at 01:46 PM | #

I listened to a passenger on TV the other night describing how the ship listed dramatically and suddenly within seconds. But when and where?

Thanks to Peter’s above post we can read the Deputy Mayor’s description of how he and the Mayor commandeered an evacuees’ tender and boarded the ship to assist when, as he says, the ship had not even started to list. The picture with the post shows the ship, now listing slightly, in almost, or very close to, it’s final resting place.

The thought occurs that it may have been the “beaching” that first caused the ship to list, then topple over and sink on it’s side. With it’s keel on the seabed and with it’s heavy superstructure? There may be an issue with regard to currents, tide and the ship being anchored.

The Deputy Mayor’s comment that in the time he was on board he only saw a junior officer, is devastating if true.

Posted by James Raper on 01/25/12 at 03:37 PM | #

Hi Tigger. A main post on how things work on those ships would be really welcome. Can do? We see up to a dozen of them each weekend and what an exciting sight they are. You may know that NYC now has three cruise ship posts (Manhattan West Side, Bayonne, and Red Hook).

The drinking info in part came from our Italian contacts and I believe the claims (including by staff) that the captain polished off a carafe of wine will stand up.

My own one experience of a cruise (which I still dream about) was on a Greek ship around the islands of the Aegean. The skipper seemed mainly there to titillate the passengers while his trusted senior officers and the autopilot steered the ship. The captain himself here has admitted that he steered the ship for the final four miles.

Point taken about cruisebruise! I promise you I didnt read anything else on that site; the story on the Mercury seemed fair.. Can you link us to the chat about the Concordia on Cruisecritics?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/25/12 at 05:58 PM | #

The Mediterranean sea is the newest sea in the world, created just over 5 million years ago, in what must have been a spectacular event.

That helps explain what I mentioned above, that it is relatively deprived of marine life.  Most French and Spanish and north African and all Portuguese commercial fishing is done out in the Atlantic.

The Huffington Post has posted a good article on the Tuscan archipelago, and why the marine life there matters so much - it is the most fertile such area in the Mediterranean - and why the oil and sewage in the Concordia are such threats.

Looks like if the oil is not drained soon and leaks out and does its worst, the damage could exceed that of the Exxon Valdez off Alaska (caused by a drunk captain), and of the capsized BP drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Billions and billions. 

Below: the Tuscan archipelago, and one town (Porto Ercole) that is threatened.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/26/12 at 03:24 PM | #
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