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."


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

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


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."


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..."


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.."


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."


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. Tom

    The whole time I was reading this I was thinking about "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed his plane in the Hudson, saving the lives of everyone on board. He was not only the last person to leave the plane, but AFTER he got all the passengers and his crew to safety, he searched the entire aircraft one more time himself when it was nearly waist deep full of water just to make sure there was no one still on board. Only then did he leave himself. That's a real captain for you.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • canuck


      January 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • 28mAmerican

      Yeah, it sucks being right every time. This captain deserves what he gets. And there is more to come .

      January 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim (not to be confused with Jim)

      Yup. I was thinking of Sully myself. This captain is a disgrace.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Here's to role model Capt Sully

      Every time we fly or go on a cruise, we assume they are all like "Sully" - sadly they are not. In emergencies you need leadership and bravery – just in case hearing it a million times isn't enough, Capt Sully – you are a hero and a role model to all! Thank you!

      January 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sean

    He did want to help them, but then he got an arrow to the knee.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bubba™

    LMFAO...... what part of – "... GET ON BOARD THE F#@KEN SHIP NOW".... he did not understand....lol

    January 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. njreader

    What a catastrophe, and how incomprehensible it is that the captain abandoned the ship while passengers and crew were still on it. I thought that was one of the immutable laws: the captain goes down with the ship. And because of this law, captains were damned careful, because if they weren't, and there was a disaster, their own lives would end. I understand what happened but can't grasp it just the same. So sad for the dead and bereaved, and so sorry for the ordeal of the others. Most grimly fascinating story in a long time, can't stop reading every new bit about it.

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

      Going down with the ship is not a law. However, the captain is legally responsible for the safety of his crew and passengers, and leaving the ship before ensuring they were all no longer onboard is criminal negligence.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marc Parella

    How did this guy get to be captain of one of the largest cruise ships in the world? I guess he watched too many episodes of Love Boat and thought Gavin MacLeod's job would be "kinda cool".

    January 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Years later...

      Mary Tyler Moore said, "Murray drives a boat!"

      January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Duane

    I love the Italians....and am happy to be descended from them. They pulled no punches in making sure the Captain was doing the right thing and wring his neck when refused.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chilly g

    im very sorry for the peoples on that ship and it apper that it was the captian fault.what im going to do is make my reservation to go on cruse because ill be able to get a good deal.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DB5

    This is the funniest transcript I have read. SNL should do a skit based on it.

    January 17, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      With Bill Hader as the captain! "But-a commander, it'sa dark out, And I mighta geta wet!"

      January 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. stacie

    I cannot believe that this man left the vessel with ppl still on board, since the dawn of time the capt was always the last person off the boat, not sure how he was educated to get his mater marniers but a boat lists not tilts, and i am wondering where the chief engineer was at when the "orders" came for the change of course, he does have the authority to say NO!!

    January 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vudu

    Hey guess what – there's more to being Captain then sitting at the Captain's table for dinner and picking up single women Shettino!! Makes you wonder how many other morons like this guy are in charge of cruise ships?

    January 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • No, there's not!

      That pretty well covers the job description.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Frank Huff

    I guess he can use "drunk sailor defense" in court

    January 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cathie

    MAKE THIS GUY WALK THE PLANK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. beckyc444

    How does someone that stupid get to become Captain? I know 5 year olds that are able to get the concept of "get back on the boat."

    January 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OnPR

    WHAT AN ABSOLUTE COWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. E Thomas

    When I read this I was thinking about the 'hijacked' Afghan airliner that had landed in London. The pilot was the first one to jump out of the plane and run away.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
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