Not long after the Costa Concordia struck Le Scole Rock off the island of Giglio, Italy at 9:45 pm on January 13, 2012, Captain Francesco Schettino’s voice can be heard on a voice-data recording muttering, “Madonna, what a mess I’ve made…”
A 270 page report issued by a team of court appointed experts agrees fully with the captain. The report blames Captain Schettino for action and inaction leading up to and following the collision that resulted in the deaths of 32 passengers and crew on the ill-fated cruise ship. The report also faults the crew and ship owner for a series of blunders, delays and safety breaches that contributed to the disaster.
In addition to causing the grounding by steering far too close to known reefs, the report also charges that the captain delayed issuing the order to abandon ship for almost an hour after the casualty. Rather than issue the abandon ship order at around 10 pm, fifteen minutes after the collision, the order to abandon ship was finally issued at 10:43 pm. When the order was given, it was not given by the captain, as required by regulations, but by a subordinate officer. Captain Schettino also failed to alert port authorities about the accident and left the ship the evacuation of passengers was completed.
Beyond Schettino’s faults, the experts said a series of problems hobbled the execution of his initial maneuver and efforts to fix it, and contributed to the botched evacuation. Bridge crew members bungled directions and didn’t his understand orders because of language barriers. Other crew members weren’t trained or certified in security and emergency drills, the report found.
In all, the experts said, Schettino and his bridge crew showed “scarce professional seriousness” before and during the disaster, with Schettino joking just before the crash, after his helmsman again misunderstood an order, that he needed to do it right “otherwise we go on the rocks.”
And the experts said ship owner Costa Crociere bore blame, too, by delaying alerting coastal authorities about the emergency — a charge Costa denied Thursday.
Thanks to Alaric Bond for contributing to the the post.