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. Amazed

    This is extremely sad. I'm sure it's been said before, but it has to be asked again, "How do Costa (and other cruise lines for that matter) select the captains of their ships? They have anywhere from 500 – 4000+ lives in their hands. Surely the selection criteria must be a lot more than just because Schettino has been with the company 4 years as a safety officer.

    Also, how can the ship sail without even having conducted a Muster Drill and telling everyone what to do in an emergency? I was on another cruise by a well-established company (non-Carnival) and they held a mandatory Muster Drill 20 minutes before the ship left port. Attendance for all passengers was taken and children were given child-sized life-vests in their cabins.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      I don't think the drill would have helped much. It's one thing having people lining up for lifeboats as if they're waiting for a bus, and another with people not even able to gain a foothold on board with the ship listed at 45 degrees

      January 18, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • The South

      Anyone who says they would have died to save others is a lie. I couldn't say that I'd do any different.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kageha

    Is this man hard at understanding? Or its the English?

    January 18, 2012 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • ViperGuy

      It's his stupidity. The captain clearly heard in his own language a direct order to return to the ship, and refused.

      January 18, 2012 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      not stupidity, cowardice.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      One of the biggest cowards in history.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maria Pia

    Please don't judge Italians basing on a slippery character like Schettino.Believe me, cconsider Italians similar to the character of De Falco. I am Italian and I there isn't a day where I don't cry for what has happened. Unfortunately all around the world there are courageous people and selfless and stupid people. In this disaster Italy has also had the misfortune to be represented by this stupid and coward man, but believe me we can both be proud of many other characters who in this situation have been great heros and these last are many and many. Ciao a tutti !

    January 18, 2012 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Salvo

      correct. during the escape an air rescue officer down from a chopper and take the control of emergency. He's Italian.
      Durin II war thousand of Italians fight Hitler and Mussolini before arrives allies troupes. They was Partisans. They risk life and families. They was brave. I descend from some of they.
      Schettino is not Italy.

      January 18, 2012 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Anybody who judges an entire culture based off one tragedy are simple, narrow-minded fools. This was the result of one man who was too cowardly to do the job with which he was charged.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Karnak

      @Maria : No reasonable person would judge Italians based upon the behavior of Captain Schettino. The dishonor and shame are entirely his own.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • JayB12

      I don't think anyone is judging the Italians as a whole. The captain seems to be a coward.

      January 18, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Donatella

      Grazie Maria Pia, you took the words right out of my mouth.This Schettino makes us all look bad and cowards.
      I am ashamed to be Italian at this moment.
      Ciao donatella

      January 18, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. Captain R Johnston

    Many are outraged at the loss of life. It is so easy to condem from the comfort of ones home, armed with hindsight and knowlege gleaned from sensational news presentation and tv disaster movies. Little concept of the reality. Captain Schettino at least had the presence of mind to "beach" his vessel. This act alone may have saved thousands. Don't be too quick to condem.

    January 18, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • lillama

      Captain R Johnston, Do you think it is possible that if the captain had not waited so long to evacuate passengers the ship would not have taken on as much water and listed as it did? Could his decision to move the ship have increased the dangers to those aboard?

      January 18, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • TimH

      It has already been shown that the Captain steered too close to the shore as a favor to one of the crew members. Then he made up a story about a problem and getting closer to the coast. Simple human error, so sad. Why doesn't a ship have underwater radar systems that would attempt to override crew actions if the ship is in danger?

      January 18, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      Beach his vessel? More like it crashed there and tilted. There's no reason why he should be off the ship while there were hundreds of people still on it. There is absolutely NO excuse for that. He was just too weak to face his mistake that costed peoples lives.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. Boo

    The captain is a coward. Plain and simple.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. David Vynerib

    Truly unbelievable that the captain would abandon the ship. He said himself that he was aware of the problem and steered toward the land to save lives. Being so close to the land and abandoning the ship just doesn't make sense – I feel like we are missing a piece of the puzzle. Very different behavior than "Scully" the pilot of the US Air flight that landed in NYC. David Vynerib

    January 18, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. daveinla

    The captain is a disgrace to the proud tradition of maritime officers around the world. Arrgh...walk the plank scoundrel!

    January 18, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. fda

    This is the companies fault... you cannot blame the captain for being frightened and panicking. thas what normal citizens do in chaos. The company should have hired a captain that was well trained and had sense enough to stay the course.

    its the companies fault for putting this man in a responsibility he was unprepared to fill.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. JP

    I lived in Italy for three years. I lived in Greece for two years. I lived in Spain for two years. I currently live in Germany. I am American. I can tell you firsthand that the concept of a "line" or "queue" is completely foreign to most Europeans. Whether you are at the butcher, the barber, the gas station, entering a room, registering a vehicle, at the Doctor's office, it's every man for himself. I'm assuming the same thing applies to a sinking cruise-ship, where you are trying to escape with your life. The Europeans are great people, nice cultures. But only Americans, Brits, Canadians, or Australians would employ the "women and children" first ethos in these situations. Keep that in mind when you are planning for emergencies on your euro-based vacations.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Water Rat

      Very true. However, the "me first" mentality is even worse in places like India and China.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Penta

    It's still under debate wether he "beached" the ship or not... commander was most probably without engines when the ship has turned around and returned towards isle port.
    He could have directioned steering with waves and using left ship inertia, but this is still to be cleared.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rose

    Gilligan would of done a better job than this captain.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gumboz1953

    The Coast Guard commandant is my kind of guy. I half expected him to scream, "DUDE - ARE YOU MENTAL? Get your hairy hiney on board that ship, before I come out there and PERSONALLY toss you off that lifeboat!"

    January 18, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. devoleary

    Oh John Walsh, are you freaking kidding me?! This was his job! I am a woman, I have saved lives, I have served in the military - it doesn't matter if you are male or female. This is not a matter of chivalry, it's a matter of doing your job. Not only did he not do his job, he took great risks, obviously, by doing a "drive by" to show off. So, negligence, dereliction of duty, cowardice. Are these the standards you live by John Walsh? Apparently you have no character because women get to have jobs and divorce jerks like you! Are you mad because you lost some of your white male power? I would have stayed on the boat. But, that's just me. A woman with equal rights, thank God!

    January 18, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      Kudos to that!

      January 18, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tlcandy

    this is crazy.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. r

    Bet this captain is a conservative. so typical.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      starting with Italian and chicken that is a 100% chance liberal or democrat which is the same. get a life I'm pretty sure you would have been the first one running over old people off that ship.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JakesForLuck

      Funny, when I was in the Marine Corps I don't remember meeting many liberals...lots of conservatives though.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • JustLeftoftheMiddle

      Hey dummy, this isn't the place NOR the story to comment about liberal or conservative. You making those comments (as a liberal myself) makes the communication about the story askew and off.

      What happened was he was in a panic and lost it. Now he has the blood of many lives on his hands and he will be judged for it via a courtroom.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      @JakesForLuck: That's because liberals know what peace is and they prefer to keep it. It's only right for conservatives to fight the wars they start.

      January 18, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • ConcernedCruiser

      Conservative? haha, seems that this captain has a link with Obama, I imagine that he would have done the same thing. Hide, make no decisions and just BS everyone on what a great job he did on maneuvering the ship. I would say more like a pathetic democrat.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      The preceding thread sums up what is wrong with so many people in the USA today. Sports team culture has invaded everything - especially politics - but now even this tragedy. So many people's whole lives revolve around what team they are on, and virtually everything in their life boils down to cheering for their team and booing the other. Who cares what the Captain's politics are? No one knows, but team cheerleaders got it all figured out instanly. Probably a Lib. Probably a Conservative. Probably you posters belong on a sports website where you can hurl insults at each other and not on a news site.

      January 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
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