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. Chris

    Honestly I will never board a cruise ship. My wife worked on board several cruise ships and a majority of the people she worked with were more incompetent than this loser. Aside from that the boat is a sitting duck and its only a matter of time before terrorist strike one of these and sink it.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker's Common Sense

      That's why I don't ride on buses, airplanes, or ferries. I don't like handing my safety off to someone who may or may not know what they are doing.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Surfstud31

      Ever heard of the Achille Lauro? A cruise ship has already been taken by terrorists many years ago. Duh

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

    He (captain Schettino) said that he did not abandon his ship because he was "CATAPULTED" into the water. I guess God loves him so much that He conveniently catapulted him to safety whilst the other miserable passengers were left on their own to be swallowed by the sea.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker's Common Sense

      He should probably go out and buy a lottery ticket. His luck might still be with him.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sally

    It is obvious the Captain did not handle this properly, and could very well be at fault. But I would also wonder why the lifeboat drill wasn't scheduled until the next day. On cruises that is the first, and only thing, you must do. The lifeboat drill happens as soon as the ship leaves port.

    And why is the cruise line CEO saying the crew handled everything great, when passengers on the cruise are saying the exact opposite – that the crew were as confused as the passengers?

    January 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nicholas Lowe

    That guys defines what it means to be a coward. He should shot for his actions.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mat

    I think this aspect of the conversation was interesting:-

    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..." And then later in the dialogue, he states: "Commandant, at this moment the ship is tilted."

    The Captain's defense is that the ship was tilted and that is why he couldn't get on the ship. He also stated that it was dark. I don't know, but I think the Captain is going to need a good Lawyer, because the talk with Port Authority really made him look like a coward.

    This is so sad, a tragedy! My condolences goes out to the families who are experience lost.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Solitaire

    Sometimes a person doesn't know what they are or are not capable of doing until an emergency happens. I guess he knows now. So in addition to being a lousy navigator, and a lousy decision-maker, he's a coward. Those poor people on board that doomed ship are lucky to be alive considering what a fool they had for a captain.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Munchkin Mentality

    We blamed 911/Afghanistan on Bin Laden. Iraq on Saddam. Egypt on Mubarak. Libya on Gadhafi. Captain on ship. There seems to be a pattern(ed) after The Wizard of Oz and the "ding dong"ers.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tracy

    That is why in war the enemy always tries to kill the leader/General/CAPTAIN so confusion and panic will destroy them for you. Just in this case the Captain did it for them himself, with the whole world watching. That is why they wanted to get him back on board, it is a time tested law or something.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker's Common Sense

      It's a maritime tradition that the Captain go down with the ship. I don't think it's a law because that would dictate that one must commit suicide which would be contrary to law.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Crocker's Common Sense

    Maritime tradition dictates that the captain go down with his ship. Apparently this particular captain didn't buy into that tradition (choosing life over death) and chose to save himself.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taggart

      There is no such tradition. The Captain is expected to remain onboard until evacuation is completed. Then he can leave. He is not expected to commit suicide by remaining on a sinking ship.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Munchkin Mentality

    ...lets just blame it on one man and forget all about the men he's been dealing with.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian W.

    The Italians should just let Capt. Gregorio De Falco put a bullet in Francesco Schettino head and be done with it....at sea and let his body fall into the ocean to be with those he lost...

    January 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Munchkin Mentality

    American tradition dictates that an American resembles a human being more than a water buffalo/Mr. Potato Head. So much for your "maritime tradition" theory.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker's Common Sense

      If that was directed toward me then please unplug your keyboard and throw it out into the street as soon as possible to prevent you from posting any more moronic statements such as that one. Thank you for your cooperation. Oh, and tell your probation officer you did a bad thing too.... thanks..

      January 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cody K.

    Coward! Port guy was badass though...I'd be scared of him.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BBoy

    It kind of (tragically) reminds be of that "We Are Sinking (German Coast Guard) (Berlitz Ad)" on You Tube.

    "We are sinking, we are sinking!"

    "What are you sinking about?"

    January 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John Mulletto de Nero

    Yeah the captain was a failure. So also the many passengers boxing themselves through through other crowds to get to safety first or holding up cell phones to film their evacuation, hindering other crew in their rescue efforts. Stupid humanity.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
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