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. Munchkin Mentality

    How many went down with the good ship America just now? Every single minute, and American dies from poor health. Obesity epidemic. What captains's that ship? Whom do we blame? Are there crewmembers involved. Are there enough life rafts for tomorrow? How many can even actually row a boat anyways? You can't even run around the freaking block without getting winded.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sensisence

      Drudge is that way ------------–>

      January 17, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • urouttolunch

      HUH?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Troll somewhere else, you Chinese bot.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Travis

      Yes, it does sound like he is intoxicated. I suspect that he was on the smaller boat, nowhere NEAR the Ship when it capsized, drinking wine with his girlfriend. That is why he couldn't make it back in time. And he certainly didn't want to go back and have the Rescuers smell him wreaking of Alcohol. He seems to think that it was a lost cause, and he didn't want to get stuck on the boat while someone else gets his boat. And, he was buying time to get back to the Ship by sounding all wishy-washy like that. When he and his Lover got to the Ship, he was like awww forget this I'm outta here...till the Commandant said he was Recording the drunkard captain.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. awdam

    He said Im a coward and need my pe nis removed with a grenade....pleas just ki ll me.....POW! YOU ARE WELCOME!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Insight

    It looks like the company handed over huge ship with 4200 people in it to a very inexperienced Capt. Next time travelers must check the details of the Capt before they board the ship.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • bita

      I'm sorry, 12 years driving a ship is not inexperienced. Research, think, then write comments. No one needs your misinformation.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nevander

      Bahaha...well said, Bita.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eduardo

      @ Bita: Perhaps you are right (now way for me to check how many years of experience he has). What is certain is that this captain acted as a coward, leaving the boat when people were still on board and refusing to go back in. This man could've prevented deaths. Despite his 12 years of presumed experience, you might as well have a 12 year old running the ship.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • moronwatch

      @bita

      Um, Schettino was hired by Costa in 2002 as a safety officer and became captain in 2006. Sounds to me that someone here can't do math. Who's spreading misinformation now? Go ahead, use a calculator to add it up. We'll wait.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MP

    What was he getting paid for? No duty, no honor, our bunny has more balls. Until this captain I thought it a joke, "Dropped once, never fired"!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeremy

    And to think that at this point, the cruise ship Captain is facing only about 20 years in prison. If he were a Captain in the Navy, he'd be facing life in the brig.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cigar Smoker

      Trust me, this guy is going to be in jail for a long time. He will automatically get twelve years just for leaving the ship before the passengers. And the Prosecutors are going to hit this coward with every charge they can.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. will heckard

    lol

    Commandant: CAPT, you abandoned ship??

    Capt: Yes! we are tilted! ... wait is that bad?.. I mean NO! NO! I'm still here!!

    Commandant: I will PWN YOU FOOL!!, GET ON THE SHIP!!

    Capt: I wanna go home! 🙁

    January 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike G

      Looool! That was the best comedy summary... lucky I wasn't drinking my tea when I read it.... 😀

      January 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Capt Cowardous

    It's not like one becomes a captain of a vessel carrying 1000's of people through the same means one gets a job at McDonalds. This captain knew damned well what operating procedure was during an event like this, and he completely ignored it. He knew what he was doing, he knew the risk, and he knew the consequence and he still abandoned ship. He deserves whatever punishment he recieves – there is no excuse. He was put in charge of all those lives – he knew that – and he abandoned them and didn't even order an SOS.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • bita

      Takes some real arrogance to fill in the blanks before we have the facts. If the Captain was thrown from the vessel, everything you said is moot.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fuzzy

      Really you are going to say he got thrown from the ship? Are you an idiot?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Schmoe

      Bita, why do you keep defending the Captain on all this. Wait, you are the Captain aren't you? I am the Commandant and I am ordering you off this blog!

      January 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eduardo

      @Joe Shmoe: Bita can't get back in the boat, as its tilted... oh no wait, she's there...

      January 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wow

    I'm trying to imagine the sequence of events – the boat hits something, the captain runs to a lifeboat, knocks a few elderly passangers out of his way, gets on the lifeboat, and is safely lowered to the water where he then directs the rescue operations. Yep, well, that about sums up the best qualities of a great leader (sarcasm).

    January 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • KK

      Seems like George Costanza was captaining that ship.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • bita

      Except you just made this fiction up based on no facts.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Correction

      Most of what you said was a good guess except that this guy wasn't coordinating jack after he got on a life boat. He was just escaping with his tail firmly between his legs.

      January 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wow

    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."

    The captain must have missed the memo that his ship was sinking and people were dying.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pjl

    Sad to have someone like that in that position. But can't wait until Saturday Night Live recreates this.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teeg

      Glad I'm not the only one that thought of that, 'boy this is going to be hard for SNL not to touch' I feel so bad for those on the ship though. Here they thought they were going on vacation and instead they get Capt My Bad

      January 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lenny

    They couldn't get on board, because the board was vertical, duh.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dr. O. Patrick

    Everyone seems to be hailing DeFalco and calling the Captain a coward. It appears to me that DeFalco wasted 1+hrs trying to shout the captain into going back on board. THAT does not show leadership to me. It was clear that the captain was not going back because he knew that it was too dangerous to do so. Only an IDIOT will sacrifice their lives for a job. Since DefAlco was such a tough guy, why did he not get there himself ? Why did he not send an experienced senior officer, to coordinate when it was clear that the Captain was not going anywhere ? This is an Accident and should be handled as such. The captain did not wake up in the morning and planned to ditch his ship. I am absolutely sure that this was NOT the first attempt at sea for this captain.

    January 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      The captain screwed up making an ill advised maneuver that put his charge in danger, being the most informed and familiar with the situation and crew he was best equipped to put the situation right as was possible. My question is in light of your comment, did DeFalco give up on the captain and eventually take charge? ALSO, being the captain means you do 'til death to put the situation right, especially if it was on your prerogative that you put the ship and its souls in harms way.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • strikesecond

      I'm afraid the Captain of an ocean going ship isn't "a job".

      With many centuries of history behind the position, there are requirements put upon the Captain of a ship that are in excess of simply "doing your job"..............to go down with your ship (if that's what happens) isn't a choice, it's an obligation.

      The point is that you're the last man off, with all your passengers off safely before you even think about leaving.

      Are you really that stupid that you don't understand this?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Are you serious or did I just miss the sarcasm here? The captain went on an unknown route and hit rocks, sinking the ship. He didn't send an SOS. He lied and told the Coast Guard everything was OK while the boat was sinking. He didn't help evacuate the ship. He refused several direct orders from his superiors. The man is directly responsible for every person injured or killed in this incident. DeFalco obviously DID send officers to take over because he told the captain that his men had boarded the ship and were doing the captain's job about an hour after the first communication. That's pretty quick to get a guy onto a cruise ship that's at sea, I'd say.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      "Only an IDIOT will sacrifice their lives for a job."

      It wasn't for "a job". It was for the lives of dozens of people for whom he was responsible.

      January 17, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      Mike,
      Thankyou

      January 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • frengo

      "Since DefAlco was such a tough guy, why did he not get there himself ?"
      Maybe one reason COULD be he was more than 200 kms away from the ship ..

      January 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kenrick

    This is an outrage! That Captain is a coward and a loser, devoid of any concern for human life. He deserves the most severe penalty available for this reckless act of inhumanity that result in the loss of life.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kenrick

    This is an outrage! That Captain is a coward and a loser, devoid of any concern for human life. He deserves the most severe penalty available for this reckless act of inhumanity that resulted in loss of innocent life.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. elizabeth

    In all fairness, the captain does sound like he is in shock and may well have been. Still, one should not get to BE captain of a huge ship if, at the first major crisis, s/he turns into a shrinking ninny. This does not reflect well on Carnival Lines to say the least.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • MP

      'liz, very true. So now how harsh are we to be with either the company or captain? Is this to become an object lesson or "just one of those things that happens?

      January 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
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