January 17th, 2012
02:53 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 'I would protect my ship and my people with my life'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"No captain should abandon his ship prior to everybody else! If anybody goes on the bottom of the sea, the captain should be there too! I hope he gets the hardest penalty, hopefully. No one should ever get away with this! Captains (naval, military, airborne) are the last men of honour at present times and that should be kept this way!"
–Cpt Sailor

Recordings between Capt. Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, shed light onto what might have happened Friday night.

Many readers said they found the translated transcripts fascinating. At one point, Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco says, "Look Schettino, you might have been saved from the sea, but I will make sure you go through a very rough time ... I will make sure you go through a lot of trouble. Get on board, damn it."

Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it'

Many of our readers were convinced that the captain was not taking responsibility for the ship.

exCaptain: "As a retired Navy veteran this is pathetic to witness. A captain of the ship is the decision maker and there are rightful duties with that responsibility! How can you not know the number of your own people on your ship and on top of that, not make quick leadership decisions? I would protect my ship and my people with my life!"

There were several references to the actions of the captain on board the U.S. Airways plane that landed in the Hudson River.

John: "Where is Captain Sully Sullenberger when you need him most? He could sure teach this guy a thing or two. What a disgrace."

This commenter could barely believe what he was reading in the transcript.

Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™: "This conversation between Schettino, De Falco, and the coast guard reads like a Monty Python script. Amazingly, it really happened."

Some said the captain's actions speak loudly about our society.

kit8: "Schettino is reflective of what our leaders today are. They rise to positions of authority and respect because they are well liked but also very incompetent. Schettino abandoning ship with his officers are the worst of the lot. CEOs who take golden parachutes while their companies sink in red ink are just as bad. Schettino will start being used to mean abandoning ship with men, women and children on board to save oneself or if you are a CEO of a sinking ship taking a golden parachute on the way out."

But there were also many readers who said we shouldn't be too quick to judge.

Give me a break: "Yes, what he did is cowardly and his incompetence cost the lives of many, but how many of us would have gotten the (expletive) off the ship? Sorry, but you can't criticize someone until you yourself have been in that position. Not saying it's right, what I am saying is the dude obviously wasn't trained on how to conduct himself in emergency situations and you don't know how you would really act in that situation."

BigDawg: "Listen, as a cruise passenger, I would be running to the life boats with my family. That is entirely appropriate. However, he was interviewed and selected for this position, first as a safety officer then promoted to a captain. He is not qualified or competent in that position if he does not have the courage and leadership to make sure his passengers and crew are safe in a disaster. Bad hiring on the part of the company for sure. You cannot hire a coward for this position.
I am an ER doc, if I could not stay calm during the stress of a critical patient arriving in the ER, I should not be employed in that position, period! Doesn't mean I wouldn't make a good family doc or working in an urgent care. He was in the wrong position. He did not know himself and the company did not do its due diligence in hiring this buffoon. He will be ridiculed for life and probably spend some time in jail. Seems entirely appropriate.

Some said Schettino ultimately had to make a decision.

Robert: "So, the captain was an idiot/drunk/whatever. Why wasn't there someone else on board who could step up and deal with this?"

Lean6: "Of course, the media is milking the 'captain not going down with the ship' theme for everything that it's worth. He was there on scene, and he made a judgement call about abondoning the ship for which he shall answer under intense scrutiny. It's taken them days and special crews and equipment to rescue the last couple of people...perhaps the Captain ascertained that he could personally do no more. There are few positions left in this world worth sacrificing your life for principle alone. Captain of a luxury liner isn't one of them in my opinion. Different story if he turned his back on someone holding on for dear life, or muscled someone out of a seat on a lifeboat."

Some wondered why it was so important for Schettino to be on the ship in the first place.

Creep: "I think I am missing something in this sad story...Why is De Falco insisting on getting that Captain back to the ship, while his main focus should be on the rescuing people. It's obvious that the captain is a Coward, deal with him later and save people first."

dirkk: "He is getting the captain back on because he needs him in the emergency response plan. He needs him to evaluate what is happening so that is why he is insisting he get back on. So it can translate into information they can use and so lives can be saved."

Dan: "I'm sure that De Falco had already ordered his people to begin rescue operations. But he needed the ranking officer on board to coordinate the rescue. However, the captain had abandoned the ship. At that point he was no longer in command. If any of the crew were left on board the most senior of them would effectively be in command. However, it sounds like all the officers had fled with the captain. If a steward was in command he probably would not be too effective. He would not have the knowledge or experience to lead the evacuation. De Falco desperately needed the senior officers back on the boat. Without them he was blind."

Italian speakers wrote in to say they thought the translation shown is pretty accurate. There were some readers who were critical of Italian people, but this commenter wanted to dispute those posts.

Heide: "I just heard the live audio on Corriere dell Sera (yes I'm fluent in Italian, lived there 15 years) and it is very much accurate to the translation in this article. It is not in the least bit exaggerated as some have suggested. The captain sounds like he has no clue to what is going on and it's a shame! The Comandante is livid! Italy is a beautiful country and the people are amazing. My heart goes out to all of them. One man's ignorance has nothing to do with an entire population."

We really did receive a lot of comments about the exchange shown in the transcript.

GA Peach: "De Falco owned the captain."

Romulan: "Captain Picard would never have abandoned ship. He'd fire all phasers and photon torpedoes at swarming Klingon ships." (The poster later added: "Let me just say that even a Ferengi would not abandon ship so easily. So this is what the Federation is made of? Cowardly humans?")

us1776: "That was the most pathetic exchange between two professional commanders. It was like De Falco was talking to a 10-year-old boy."

iReporter James Forgrave said he was "shocked" at this news and could almost relate. He shared photos of a 2008 trip aboard the Costa Concordia during which the ship hit a dock near Palermo, Sicily, and he became an eyewitness.

Finally, this reader said there is a lesson to be learned here.

Bob O: "Mamas and Daddies everywhere, take heed. Teach your babies the one thing they will need most in this world.

C-O-U-R-A-G-E."

What do you think about what happened on the Costa Concordia? What do you think about the captain's words as recorded in the transcript? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Italy • Overheard on CNN.com • Travel • World
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. gung hoe

    @hamsta what is it with people named herman and falling .At least I havent been killed yet.Sorry about your friend,from the sounds of it you did everything you could do.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. The Prophet

    Definitively the works of a sabotage scheme for financial gain millions!!! i said sabotage ...not terrorist act, although by American euphoric standards now at days even a one McDonald's burns down it terrorist attack on Ameritopia,

    January 18, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. lordpet

    Talk to any mariner and they will tell you the captain has the duty to be the last person off a vessel in distress. He does not have to go down with the ship, but he has to run the evacuation. Where was he? The crew had so little guidance that they took the initiative to start evacuating people before Schettino gave the order to abandon ship. He didn't even issue a distress call! If you can't handle the responsibility of being a captain, don't be a captain. It's not about "romantic ideals of the sea", it's about the very real and deadly ramifications involved in a delayed or poorly executed evacuation.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. AMERICA HAS JUST BEGAN TO SHOW WHAT SHES MADE OF

    WHAT SUNK THIS SHIP WAS THE FACT IT WAS TOO CLOSE TO ISLAND 1000 PERSONNEL SHOULD OF HAD BETTER TRAINING WHEN IT COMES TO SAVING LIVES IN A MEGA DISASTER LIKE THIS SUCH A TRAGEDY

    January 19, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Really Jimmy?

    Go back to crapping corn

    January 19, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Scottish Mama

    @ Joey-Congratulation on your recognition.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. icreepin

    First of all you cant look at the capt with out looking at the events leading up to this point. The first question you have to ask is

    1. has he ever been a capt running this route before?

    2. how many other senior officers had run the route before?

    3. If he was off course to get a better view of the island was this normal for this route?

    4. Did he have all of the updated maps needed to navigate? If not why not???

    At some point as a leader you have to know when to pull the plug on something. The thought or notion that a capt has to go down with this ship is not one marked in reality. OK so the ship is un savable at what point does the capt begin to lead the crew on land vs trying to save people on the boat? If I have done my research correctly there wasn't any equipment on board that would have allowed the capt or the senior staff to rescue the people that were latter found by the authories.

    You can call the capt and the senior crew what ever you like but the main question you have to ask is if there were accurate maps would the capt have really taken the ship as close as he did?

    January 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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