Questions remain as to why Capt. Francesco Schettino, who is under house arrest in Italy, did not stay on board the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise liner lying on a reef off the coast of Giglio.
In audio recordings that have been released by the Italian Port Authority, the captain first says that he abandoned ship and then later claims that when the ship tilted on its side, he was catapulted into the sea.
What follows is a translation by TelegraphTV of the radio conversation between the furious Italian Port Authority officer and Capt. Schettino who was in a lifeboat at the time.
Port Authority: Listen, Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now you need to go on your lifeboat… Under the bow of the ship on the side, there is a ladder. You need to climb up the ladder and board the ship. Get on board and report to me how many people there are. Is that clear?
Schettino: So, at this moment, the ship is tilted….
Port Authority: I understand. Listen, there are people who are coming down the ladder on the bow. Go back in the opposite direction, get back on the ship, and tell me how many people there are and what they have on board. Clear? Tell me if there are children, women and what kind of help they need. And you tell me the number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Look, Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea, but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Get on board. Damn it!
Schettino: Captain, please….
Port Authority: There is no please about it. Go back on board. Assure me you are going back on board!
Schettino: I am in the lifeboat, under the ship. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m here.
If Capt. Schettino was catapulted into the water, as he says, why was he so reluctant to reboard his vessel that was lying on a reef in no immediate danger of sinking and still had passengers on board?
Some wonder why Capt. Schettino was behind the wheel of the Costa Concordia in the first place. In an interview on NPR, Maritime law professor Bob Jarvis compared Capt. Schettino to Capt. Hazelwood of Exxon Valdez fame and posed these questions to radio host Neal Conan.
Captain Hazelwood was very quickly set adrift by his employers, who tried to put all the blame on him. Of course, Exxon was not ultimately successful in doing that because even if Captain Hazelwood was a drunk, you know, was alleged, even if he left the bridge, even if he did all these things that were terrible, who hired him? Who trained him? Who oversaw him? Who kept putting him back in charge of a huge supertanker? And so Costa is already doing the same thing. I mean, they’re excoriating their captain. And yet at the end of the day they hired him. They trained him, and they kept letting him sail.
Click on the video to the left to listen to the conversation between the Italian Port Authority and Capt. Schettino.