Year 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. The captain knew what was going to happen, and knew exactly what he had to do. He did not scramble to abandon the ship and save his life. Instead, Captain Edward Smith bravely stayed and went down with his ship. Indeed, worthy of being a Captain.
Fast forward, a century later, year 2012. A cruise ship, Costa Concordia, hit a rock. The Captain, Francesco Schettino, has found himself entangled with the same dilemma. At the tragic moment, he had to decide whether to stay or abandon the ship. He chose the latter.
Probably, the macabre scenario of the movie Titanic flashed through his head, and he could not bear it. Or perhaps, he could not muster the courage to face his possible anguish of death. So he abandoned his ship, at least according to recorded exchanges between Gregorio de Falco (Italian Coast Guard) and Captain Schettino.
Here is the partial recording translated by BBC:
De Falco: “Understood. Listen there are people going down from the prow using the rope ladder; you take that rope ladder on the opposite side, you go aboard and you tell me the number of people and what they have on board. Is that clear? You tell me whether there are children, women or people needing assistance. And you tell me the number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Schettino, maybe you saved yourself from the sea, but I’ll make you pay for sure. Go aboard.”
Schettino: “Commander, please?”
De Falco: “Please, now you go aboard.”
Schettino: “I am on the life boat, under the ship, I haven’t gone anywhere, I’m here.”
De Falco: “What are you doing, commander?”
Schettino: “I’m here to coordinate rescues.”
De Falco: “What are you coordinating there? Go on board and coordinate rescues from on board. Do you refuse?”
Schettino: “No, no I’m not refusing.”
De Falco: “You’re refusing to go aboard, commander, tell me why you’re not going.”
Schettino: “I’m not going because there is another lifeboat stopped there.”
De Falco: “Go aboard: it’s an order. You have no evaluation to make, you declared abandon ship, now I give orders: go aboard. Is it clear?”
Schettino: “Commander I’m going aboard.”
Did Schettino really abandon his ship? Or, he was just right there coordinating the rescue. Actually, we have no idea what exactly had transpired on that tragic night. According to survivors—-Everything was pitch-dark and chaos. All we know, Schettino was being yelled at and scolded by the Coast Guard, ordering him to go back to his ship. He might even have a valid reason as to why he was coordinating from the lifeboat. Whatever his excuse is, opps I mean reason, let’s hear it.
Well, he happens to have one. Here it goes.
“Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60-70° angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats,” Schettino said. “That’s how I found myself in the lifeboat.”
Aye Aye Captain! Yeah right!