January 17th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

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

Recordings between the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship and the Livorno Port Authority, which is part of the Coastal Guards, have given new insight into what happened on the ship when it hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast.

A total of 23 people remain missing following the wreck, which led to 11 deaths, Italian officials said Tuesday. Capt. Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, according to an Italian prosecutor.

Questions abound for captain of doomed cruise ship

Below are several transcripts of recordings between authorities and the captain published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and translated by CNN's Hada Messia. The first calls came in right after midnight.

Livorno Port Authorities: "Concordia, we ask you if all is OK there."

Concordia: "All is well."

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Port authority: "Concordia, We ask you if all is well there."

Concordia: "All is well. It is only a technical failure."

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Port authority: "How many people are on board?"

Schettino: "Two-three hundred"

Port authority: "How come so few people? Are you on board?’

Schettino: "No, I’m not on board because the ship is keeling. We’ve abandoned it."

Port authority: "What? You’ve abandoned the ship?"

Schettino: "No. What abandon? I’m here."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Captain. This is De Falco from Livorno."

Schettino: "Commandant, I’ve also alerted the company… I’m being told that there are still passengers on board, apparently they are about one hundred… but I repeat…"

De Falco: "Captain. You are not able to tell me an exact figure? About a hundred people, it seems?

Schettino: "Commandant, I am not able to give you an exact figure because let me explain... while we were evacuating the last passengers… now we are all here with all the officers…"

De Falco: "Where are you? On the lifeboats? All the officers?"

Schettino: "Yes, we are with the second commander…"

De Falco: "Forgive me, but before you were only with a sailor. If the officers managed to get down, it means that they could still move."

Schettino: "Yes...in fact...

De Falco: "Then why don’t they get back on board? To monitor the operation and then they can tell us. Thank you."

Schettino: "No it is not possible…"

De Falco: "Send them on board. Send one person on board to coordinate..."

Schettino: "But I am doing the coordination."

De Falco: "I’m giving you an order captain. You need to send someone on board."

Schettino: "We are going on board to coordinate."

De Falco: "Exactly. You need to get on board to coordinate the evacuation. Is that clear?!"

Schettino:  "But we can’t get on board now…the ship is now…(hard to understand)..."

De Falco: "Why did you tell them to get down?"

Schettino: "What do you mean get down? We abandoned the ship…the ship turned ..."

De Falco: "...and with one hundred people on board you abandon the ship? (expletive)"

Schettino: "I did not abandon any ship with 100 people…the ship (hard to understand)...we were catapulted into the water..."

De Falco: We’ll see later what happened. OK? Now tell me everything that takes place. Everything. Get under with the lifeboat (not very clear at this point). Don’t move. Clear?"

Schettino: "Commandant..we are here…we are here..."

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Port authority: "You must return on board. Climb the ladder (rope ladder), return to the fore (stem) and coordinate the work."

Schettino does not reply

Port authority: "You must tell us how many people are on board, how many women, how many children. You have to coordinate the rescue operation. Commander, this is an order. Now I’m in charge, you have abandoned ship and now you are going to go to the stem and coordinate the work. There are already dead bodies."

Schettino: "How many?"

Port authority: "You should be the one telling me this…What do you want to do? Do you want to go home?...Now go back on the stem and tell me what to do.."

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Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Listen, this is De Falco from Livorno. Am I speaking with the captain?"

Schettino: "Yes."

Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco: "Tell me your name."

Schettino: "This is Captain Schettino, commandant."

De Falco: "Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now, you have to go with your lifeboat and go under the boat stem on the straight side, there is a ladder there."

De Falco: "Get on board on the ship and tell me, you tell me how many people there are."

De Falco: "Clear? I’m recording this conversation, Captain Schettino."

Schettino: "Well then commandant, I need to tell you something."

De Falco: "Speak loudly."

Schettino: "The ship now…I’m here in front of it..."

De Falco: "Captain, speak loudly."

Schettino: "Commandant, at this moment the ship is tilted."

De Falco: "I understand. Listen. There are people who are coming down the stem ladder. You must take that ladder in the opposite direction. Get on board the ship and you tell me how many people are on board, and what do they have. Clear? You tell me if there are children, women, people with special needs. And you tell me how many there are of each category..."

De Falco: "Is that clear?"

De Falco: "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."

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Schettino: "Commandant, please…"

Port authority: "No...please. No, you get on board. Assure me that you are getting on board."

Schettino: (Hard to understand) "I’m here with the rescuers. I’m here. I’ve not gone anywhere. I’m here."

Port authority: "What are you doing captain?"

Schettino: "I’m here coordinating the rescue."

Port authority: (Speaks over captain): "What are you coordinating there? Go on board and coordinate from there the rescue operation. Are you refusing?"

Schettino: "No, no, I’m not refusing."

Port authority: "You are refusing to go on board? And why are you not going on board?"

Schettino: "I am going because now there is the other motorboat (Lancia) that has stopped now."

Port authority: "You go on board. It is an order. You cannot make any other evaluations. You have declared abandoning ship. Now I’m in charge. You get on board. Is it clear?"

Schettino:  "Commandant..."

Port authority over captain: "Are you not listening to me.."

Schettino speaks over Port authority: "I’m going..."

Schettino: "Call me immediately when you get on board. Our rescue officer is there."

Schettino:  "Where is your rescue officer?"

Port authority: "My rescue officer is at the stem…Go …(can hear captain saying OK)…There are already bodies, Schettino."

Schettino: "How many dead bodies are there?"

Port authority: "I don’t know. I know of one. I’ve heard of one. You are the one to tell me how many there are. Christ!"

Schettino:  "Are you aware that it is dark here and we cannot see anything?"

Port authority: "So? Do you want to go home Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Climb the ladder and get on the stem."

Port authority: "...and tell me what can be done, how many people are there, what do they need. Now."

Schettino: "Commandant, we are with the second in command…"

Port authority: "Then both of you climb up. What is his name?"

Schettino: "Dimitris Christidis."

Port authority: "You are your guard. Go on board, now!"

Schettino: "Commandant… I want to go on board, it is just that the other lifeboat here…there are other rescue operators... it has stopped and it is stuck there... now I’ve called other rescue operators..."

Port authority: "It is one hour that you are telling me this. You go on board. On b.o.a.r.d (says the word slowly almost spelling it out). And you immediately tell me how many people there are"

Schettino:  "OK."

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Filed under: Italy • Travel
soundoff (612 Responses)
  1. Viola

    I agree about everything you said about Schettino, of course. But I had to stop reading the comments after a few pages because a few of them made me sick. So there are a few things I have to say.
    First: this could have happened everywhere, this is not Italy's fault of the Italian system fault, this was an only, stupid, crazy, (you name it), man who made a disaster. Italian history of navigation is excellent, that is history, and that's all. It's like if I said American Army sucks because a pilot killed 20 people on a cableway. I'm talking about what happened on Cermis. But I would never ever say something like this, because it's stupid and shallow. One man doesn't make the whole thing, does it?
    If you don't know the story: http://www.italymag.co.uk/italy/strage-del-cermis/us-military-acknowledges-fault-cermis-tragedy .
    Second: someone said Italy, Greece and Portugal coused the global crisis. I'd like to remember this person that the global economic crisis has actually started in the Us and spread everywhere.
    Third: to the one who said all Italians can do is drink wine etc etc. You are ignorant and rude, and probably know Nothing about Italy. Same old cliche... Just pathetic.
    And yes, I'm Italian. From Grosseto, so pretty close, and I can ear helicopters all the time in these days. God bless those rescuers who are doing a great job. And De Falco. That man know what the word duty means.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MARK

      Indeed Vioala, nationality has nothing to do with it. The whole cruise industry has grown way to fast, and people in charge are not as qualified as the position they hold down. In a world where only the price of shares are of any rele
      vance, this was bound to happen.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sal

      Lets not be hasty here. First, lets give the Captain a fair trial, then give him his fill of pasta, pizza, and spumoni then we hang him like Benito Mussolini was huing in the town square.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MARK

    Sad story! I know for a fact that there is a major cruise liner out there whom places in command of life boats(in charge of 150) people whom are without any clue, and hold non-maritime jobs onboard.This is just a minor detail on what could go wrong in a real emergency!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luck

      do you know how many life boats are on a 800ft ship?

      January 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JJ

    Sounds like the captain is a coward.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marco

      I have the same impression.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Earnest T Bass

    I told you a towel boy couldn't be a captain. And You said to give him a chance that he is your sisters son.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 88ren

    As bad as this looks, it's too bad the media are hell bent to crucify this guy before a formal investigation can take place. The ship's data recorders apparently have been turned over not to an impartial safety board such as the U.S. NTSB, but to the prosecutor's office! I'm also stunned at how quickly the Costa CEO was willing to comment on this tragedy, rather than working with investigators.

    All this risks only further casualty – – this time to maritime safety itself as compromised investigation does not lead to proper discipline or punishment as well as procedural or technological change. Crews worried about public lynching will be all the more likely in the future to avoid honesty or candor in reporting unsafe conditions or practices. Too bad.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earnest T Bass

      just read the WHOLE story please.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pedro

    No sense of duty. Being a moron is forgivable, not caring is not.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 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.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lunalilo

    There should be witnesses who SAW exactly HOW the Captain left the doomed Concordia. Was he indeed "catapulted into the sea," or did he dive in and make a run for it? Did he climb into a boat? Someone somewhere saw and knows. The truth will come out.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The POPE

    Where is Captain Sullenberger when you need one?

    January 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MARK

    Attn: Luck
    There is about 18 lifeboats onboard a major cruise liner. If you are telling me that there is not 18 maritime officers to be ready and drive the lifeboats then there is something very wrong!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grasshopper

      Ever tried to launch a lifeboat when the ship is tilted ?
      Go ahead, i will wait.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. Romulan

    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?

    January 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Picard

      Commander, you have found our weak spot.

      Ensign – set course out of the Neutral Zone – warp 9 – engage!

      January 18, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. solarman

    Worst case of cowardice and deriliction of duty you are ever likely to witness. The captain didn't want to return to his ship even when the port authority had their own officer at the stern and the ship was relatively stable.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DeltaRockGirl

    Wow!! Sorta reminds me of what WE experienced on September 11, eg, "where is Bush?!!"

    January 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grasshopper

      Reading "my pet goat" with school children.
      Right where he belongs.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Libdumb

    HANG HIM, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bud

    Why the rabid focus on getting this guy back on the boat? Is he a trained EMT? Is he an experienced climber with all appropriate safety gear? Is he trained (AND experienced) in evacuation techniques for injured people stuck in precarious positions? If the answer is no to these questions, then get him the - off the boat and send in the pros that do this kind of work for a living. As noble a gesture as it may seem to force him back on the boat so he can salute the sky as both he and the ship sink beneath the waves, his usefulness on the boat ended when it turned COMPLETELY SIDEWAYS AND SANK.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • DWL-SDCA

      Actually, a ship captain should have had substantial training in emergency care and crisis management. The captain should not be doing the rescuing himself but managing the crisis. The captain is responsible for assuring that the other officers and crew are performing their duties. The captain is responsible for keeping track of who has left the ship and who remains - if not by name, by accurate count. The captain is the one in charge, his role is to manage the crisis. The captain should know everything about his ship and be the most qualified person to minimize the loss of life. Shouting about the ship being in a precarious position isn't relevant. The captain, when accepting responsibility, knows his duty - that doesn't necessarily mean that he is expected to hang around so that he can drown. The captain must find a place of relative safety to coordinate everything and to keep at it until things are under control. Although part of the ship was underwater, it wasn't completely sinking.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
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