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. BD

    Wow..... just.... wow

    January 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • you be so silly

      Another "wow...just... wow" moment is when you realize that this captain and his crew were flying under the Italian flag in order to avoid american laws and regulations on training. Carnival Cruise is the real operator of this ship.

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

      They do not fly under the Italian flag for that reason. Costa is an old and storied Italian line that was purchased by Carnival but the countries they register to avoid laws are small countries like Liberia where they can get away with much less regulation. Countries like the US, Italy or UK, France, any modern first-world country are strict and up to date on safety.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kev

      lol, It's an Italian ship, an Italian line, built in Italy sailing in Italy with mainly Italians, where would you want it to register?

      January 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • drossi79

      the owner is Carnival Corp since 2000, the ship was built in 2006.So every decision is at least supervised by Americans owners. The bill will be paid in american dollars from the american owners. The fault is of the captain that before than italian is an idiot and coward. But every country have lot of them. So stop this "italian" thing cause if the rest of the world would play this game there no chance for "americans" to end up as the best population of the world.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WC

    And people thought that FEMA was incompetent in the face of disaster. Private enterprise will solve everything. Buy stock in Carnival anyone?

    January 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. katmoondaddy

    I am very impressed with the Port Authority's concern for the safety of the passengers. They should be commended for making it clear to the captain he really screwd up big time!

    January 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Josie

    That captain is a coward. I'm glad that there are men like the commandant giving orders, but after about a half hour of getting nowhere with Schettino he should have just asked if there was another officer with the courage to get back on board and coordinate the rescue.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frank

    This is what happens when Carnival Cruise executives give cushy captains jobs to executive buddies instead of real ship captains.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Lebowski

    Captain Crunch........good night everybody!

    January 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ilmassi

    Schettino was looking for DiCaprio...but found the sergeant Hartman!

    January 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aghast

    A captain is supposed to place his life below that of the lowliest passenger. They entrusted their lives to him and his reaction to the crisis was to get his cowardly backside into a lifeboat and refuse all orders to to help right the wrong he brought about. It was an opportunity to redeem himself and to shine in the public eyes as a hero. Apparently, bravery and selflessness just aren't in "Swandive" Schettino's makeup.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jdurand

    Good grief! How frustrating that must have been for De Falco dealing with such a incompetent coward.

    Kudos to De Falco for his leadership here.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe S

    This is a coward of the lowest order ( or highest). He was saving his sorry butt. Several years ago there was a similar incident where the Captain and crew fled the ship. A waiter or entertainment person coordinated the rescue involving choppers. This Captain and his executive staff should spend many years in jail. BTW having been on dozens of cruises I always watch the harbor pilot board and leave. No Pilot?

    January 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. expat1

    Listening to the tape, the post authority was angry and couldn't believe what he was hearing. Here you have a Captain of a ship finding ever excuse not to go and help but coordinate from a lifeboat. It's so comical you don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm no expert but it is obvious that he waited to long to evacuate the people on board. I'd like to know where was the 2nd in command? When they saw that their Captain wasn't doing his job could they have stepped in and took over command like the port authority did? Schettino isn't the only guilty party here.

    I lived in Italy for over 5 years and the disorganization,lack of training and communication is quite common there .Italy operates like a 3rd world country, don't let the fashion and idea of Italy fool you. But I will say that I was a bit taken back by this accident as I would of thought at least on a big cruise ship where there is more of an international cliente, that the staff and crew would of been properly trained. It is sad that people lost their lives due to the lack of training and communication. My heart goes out to those families who have lost a loved one.

    January 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • phunka

      I think is not a case of disorganisation If Schettino didn't give the order of evacuation. Press says one of the officers made somehing as a mutiny and ordered to abandon the ship but the Concordia was already laying on the side and was difficult to evacuate the ship so. When the emergeny started rescuers from the mainland where there in few minutes but the mayday was given after 1h from the crash. Most of the responsability of the chaos was from Schettino and the officers.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm Italian and I live in Italy. I would say it's not properly true
      we operate like 3rd world. As in every country many people
      do their job with a professional and responsible service, and
      many others with much superficiality and careless
      Obviously I'm astonished to hear this tragedy and if confirmed by authority
      that captain has left the boat with 4000 persons. It seems he wanted
      to salut the Giglio island with the sirens , so he passed very closed the shore.
      If confirmed he has to pay hard this tragedy. But please remember
      1998 when 2 U.S. airplanes cut the cable of CERMIS (Italy) cableway
      Killing 20 people. They were playing tricks for fun in that moment ! For what I've heard
      none of the is in jail. So all world is almost the same

      January 18, 2012 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I'm Italian and I live in Italy. I would say it's not properly true
      we operate like 3rd world. As in every country many people
      do their job with a professional and responsible service, and
      many others with much superficiality and careless
      Obviously I'm astonished to hear this tragedy and if confirmed by authority
      that captain has left the boat with 4000 persons. It seems he wanted
      to salut the Giglio island with the sirens , so he passed very closed the shore.
      If confirmed he has to pay hard this tragedy. But please remember
      1998 when 2 U.S. airplanes cut the cable of CERMIS (Italy) cableway
      Killing 20 people. They were playing tricks for fun in that moment ! For what I've heard
      none of them is in jail. So all world is almost the same

      January 18, 2012 at 4:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. paco

    Flung from a ship and right into the lifeboat.... haha! How convenient. Psew! Flung my axx..

    January 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AntiPsychos

    This post is a yellow journalistic load of hogwash. Commenters here do not understand the situation but glom onto the sensationalist aspects. There is no timeline established here. Had the captain stayed aboard until virtually all passengers were off? Was he "catapulted" into the sea by the "tilting"? Is this the correct translation or was it "capsizing"?
    Can he coordinate better from a lifeboat than from a near vertical deck in total blackness without any onboard communication, and no way of accessing the rest of the ship?

    January 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe S

      The Captain was CLUELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A rat from the sinking ship

      January 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoffeeClue

      Captain leaves the sinking ship last. No if, buts, maybes or couldbes.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe piazza

      the fact happened because the captain sailed too close to the land where rocks were reported even on the charts ... and he made this just to give the passengers a closer view of the island.
      when the coast guard at the beginning asked him if it was all ok, the captain said it was just a problem to an alternator... no excused for this liar!
      finally: maneuvering a boat like this is not easy ok ... but should be in his competences

      January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kyle H. Davis

    Is it just me, but to play devil's advocate here, but his words would be logical, if you consider all of his words and the situation.

    Middle of the night, fell/catapulted off the ship, he may have said "abandoned" in the sense that he was not on the ship. In a life raft, unable to get onto the ship, waiting for a rescue boat to get back to the ship... He would be completely unaware of what was going on with the rescue efforts (survivors or deaths).

    Not to detract from any of his mistakes in regards to the actual collision or actions up to the point of the list, but... if you consider the fact that he may have been tossed into the water while trying to survey the damage... it would be logical.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • AntiPsychos

      Thank you for also being reasonable. Let's wait for better reports of the situation before rushing to judgement.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • korman643

      Schettino didn't feel and wasn't "catapulted" out of anything. He left well ahead of anybody else, and lied repeatedly upon his whereabouts.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • CoffeeClue

      If he was "catapulted" from the ship, he should've gotten right back on it. Captain doesn't leave a sinking ship until everyone else has left.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dustin

      Thank you for actually thinking, and being logical. As I was reading the transcripts I was getting upset with the port control and such for getting onto the captain like they did. Schettino: "I did not abandon any ship with 100 people…the ship (hard to understand)...we were catapulted into the water..." Situations like this don't have a black and white answer as to how they are to be handled, yet the port control was acting like it did. It is up to the captain to assess the situation and coordinate the evacuation efforts, however, after being tossed into the water by an overturning ship, the handbook goes out the window and he was doing what he could to help with people yelling in his ear.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jocelyn

      True, its hard to pass judgement unless you were there. I have never been "catapulted" from a cruise ship before, but logic would suggest that if that happened you would not land in a life boat with all of your officers. As a Captian it is his responsibility to make sure that everyone is off the ship safely, espeically after you made the mistake of going off course and crashing the ship.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      If he were catapulted – how did he find a lifeboat full of officers who were also "catapulted" – aaaand a working radio? (it was dark, remember!)... and why did he stay on it for an hour? Oh, and there's the pesky detail of the French couple who actually saw him climb down into a lifeboat before everyone was off. :\

      I like to play devil's advocate too... but it's really not looking good - and in these conversations he seems to avoid all proactivity and responsibility – even clarity. Was he drunk??

      January 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • CommonSense

      Keyle and AntiPsychos: Use your common sense here. This is not a Court of Law here. There is no "burden of proof", etc. You two honestly think that what comes up in Court is the absolute truth (i.e. OJ Simpson Murder Trial)

      Does it seem logical that the Captain, the 2nd in Command, and all the officers are all conviently "flung" overboard and land in a life raft and have to be forced to go back onto a ship and make up excuses? Really, use your brains here.

      From this dialog, and from reports of the chaos that was on that ship, I can say without any doubt that the Captain was a coward, along with all his officers.

      HE was solely responsible for sinking that ship. HE should have coordinated the evacuation. HE is a coward.

      Think about it for a moment if you were on a sinking ship, and the Captain, and all the officers are the first ones in the life boat before anyone else. Does this seem right? Would you be content with the Captain's actions?

      Quit playing Devil's Advocate because it's getting old. Questioning every minute detail will leave some questions, but they do not tell the whole story. The larger details of what happen paint an eery (sp) picture of a cowardice Captain who flees from a disaster he stupidly caused.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. threehour cruise

    Gilligan and Skipper would have done a better job of handling this shipwreck!!!!

    January 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
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